Vexatious Employees Turned Vexatious Litigants

We’ve all had experience with vexatious employees (not to mention vexatious colleagues) but we employment and labour lawyers often deal with vexatious litigants who happen to be former or current employees. I’ve personally had experience with employees filing similar claims for similar incidents before the Human Rights Tribunal, Superior Court, the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Employment Standards Office. These claims can often by filed for free or minimal charge to the employee but generate huge cost for employers. Additonally, employees (particularly those who are self-represented) often file multiple pointless motions with each of those forums.

Thankfully, as chronicled here, the Court of Appeal of Nova Scotia finally had enough with one such litigant. In Liu v. Atlantic Composites Ltd., 2014 NSCA 58, what originally should have been a simple workers’ comp claim spun out of control and cost with the employee claiming damages exceeding FIVE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS against a raft of people for purported violations of the Criminal Code, the Constitution and the Fisheries Act (just kidding on the last one). Justice Saunders summarized the Appelant’s conduct as follows:

[19] Even if either appeal had merit, I would order that they be dismissed on the basis that each is vexatious and an abuse of process (CPR 90.44(1)(a)) and also because the appellant failed to perfect the appeals (CPR 90.44(1)(b)) after being given every opportunity to do so. By his conduct, Mr. Liu has demonstrated a flagrant and repeated unwillingness to abide by the orders of this Court. This includes a clear pattern of behaviour in not satisfying filing deadlines or directions with respect to content; not honouring costs orders; making entirely unfounded, abusive and contemptuous allegations against staff, lawyers and judges; finally culminating in his refusal to participate in proceedings he himself had initiated.

[my underlining]

Clearly, Mr. Liu is an extreme example of a vexatious litigator and former employee. However, this case is a good example for how far people can go and how courts can assist clamping down on this kind of conduct.

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Comments

  1. Well obviously anyone who is seeking FIVE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS (thanks for the ALL CAPS) can be fairly characterized as vexatious, and I guess it is a shame that from time to time such self-reps are allowed to darken the doors of our courtrooms. But the real shame is the many vexatious parties who can afford and are represented by counsel. Some of them are employers. I speak from experience.

    On the BC courts judgments database is a series of judgments that can be readily brought up by using just my last name (as it is not a common one). I won the first action (in January 2003), having faced counsel for the City of Vancouver, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the provincial Labour Relations Board. As it was a judicial review the “justice” I received was an opportunity to go back before the LRB for some more abuse. But as the other parties weren’t satisfied with that, in addition to subjecting me to more abuse at the Board they appealed. So I had the privilege of fighting all these lawyers in two forums at once. I can’t imagine what would have then ensued if I had prevailed before the Court of Appeal, but that wasn’t in the cards. However the story didn’t end there and it hasn’t ended yet.

    Vexatiousness is in the eye of the beholder, and I behold a lot of litigation being conducted in a vexatious manner by lawyers for clients who can afford them.

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