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Personal Injury

Intervenor ruling highlights value of following best practices

An ‘unusual’ case where a judge ruled lawyers could not intervene with full-party status in a number of medical actions launched by a patient following her care at an Ontario hospital underlines the need for counsel to follow best practices in the management of their files, Toronto personal injury lawyer Miles Obradovich tells Legal Feeds.

The case concerned an individual who filed three medical negligence actions over the care she received at a hospital in 2013.

Although the plaintiff hired solicitors for the first medical action, she later hired new counsel to pursue all three matters, and began a negligence action against the first solicitors, alleging the firm had not sued doctors involved in her treatment within the right limitation period, Legal Feeds reports.

The defendants in the second and third actions wanted to terminate the proceedings based upon limitation defences, according to the ruling, and see the judge strike those actions.

As the article notes, the solicitors sought leave from the court to intervene in all three medical actions with full party status, arguing they should be involved in all three proceedings as, if the doctor who was named as the defendant in the first medical action “has any joint liability for the plaintiff’s injuries then there will be no or minimal compensable loss that can be claimed in the solicitor’s action.”

They also argued they had an “interest in the limitation issue to be argued in the second and third medical actions and in the assessment of damages in the medical actions,” the article reports.

The move to intervene in all three actions was denied by a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, but the parties were permitted to intervene in the pending motion for judgment on the limitation issues in the second and third medical actions, says the article.

Obradovich, founding partner of Obradovich Law, tells Legal Feeds that the case is unusual.

“No one wants to be sued so [the solicitors] want to prevent the possibility of that happening by participating in the case, to help argue that it was not barred by time,” he says.

“The lawyer [allegedly] made a mistake and now wants to minimize his damages. Most lawyers don’t want to be in this position to begin with,” he adds.

Ultimately, says Obradovich: “[Lawyers] should follow best practices concerning the management of their files to ensure that they have particular systems, to ensure they have done the right investigation and to ensure that the subject matter of the litigation is something that they have knowledge about [and] that they are not inexperienced with.”

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