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WORKERS' COMPENSATION - Civil procedure - Jurisdiction

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 6:51 AM  

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Appeal by the plaintiff, Taylor, from an order striking his action against the defendants, the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (Board) and Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (Tribunal). The self-represented plaintiff suffered a workplace injury in 1997. In the ensuing 20 years, the plaintiff was involved in several hearings before the Board and Tribunal, all of which culminated in a denial of various categories of benefits. In 2014, the plaintiff sued the Board and Tribunal seeking compensatory damages of $1.7 million plus $15 million in punitive damages. The defendants brought a motion to dismiss the action on jurisdictional grounds, or alternatively, strike the pleadings for failure to disclose a cause of action. The motion judge concluded that the Superior Court of Justice lacked jurisdiction to engage in a judicial review of Board and Tribunal decisions in the context of a civil action. The action was dismissed. Additionally, the statement of claim was struck in its entirety without leave to amend for failure to disclose a reasonable cause of action. The plaintiff appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The motion judge did not err in striking the plaintiff's claim on jurisdictional grounds. The essence of the plaintiff's claim against the defendants involved unfair treatment and denial of benefits to which he was entitled. The plaintiff also alleged tortious conduct by various members of the Tribunal. The motion judge did not err in concluding the Court was unable to grant the relief sought, as it fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Board and Tribunal. A litigant was unable to circumvent the statutory scheme for claiming benefits for a workplace injury by alleging bad faith and coupling it with a claim for damages. The motion judge did not err in striking the plaintiff's pleadings for failure to disclose a cause of action. There was no legal recognition of a stand-alone action for bad faith. Read generously, the statement of claim did not assert a cause of action for misfeasance in public office. Any further proposed amendments to the pleading would undermine the principle of finality.

Taylor v. Ontario (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board), [2018] O.J. No. 611, Ontario Court of Appeal, J.I. Laskin, G. Huscroft and D. Paciocco JJ.A., February 6, 2018. Digest No. TLD-February262018006