Ontario Superior Court orders removal of plaintiff's counsel in a personal injury case

The administration of justice will be affected if the lawyer remains: court

Ontario Superior Court orders removal of plaintiff's counsel in a personal injury case

In a recent personal injury action, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ordered the removal of the plaintiff's counsel of record due to a conflict of interest.

In Horvat v. Alam, 2024 ONSC 51, the defendants, Muhammad Alam and Alam Law Firm, had moved for an order removing Douglas LaFramboise as counsel of record for the plaintiff, Adalbert Horvat. The defendants alleged that LaFramboise's dual roles as counsel and a potential witness created a conflict that could compromise the proper administration of justice.

The case stems from a workplace injury in 2017, where a forklift struck the plaintiff, Horvat. The plaintiff retained the defendants, Muhammad Alam and Alam Law Firm, to pursue a compensation claim. Eventually, the plaintiff commenced an action against Alam Law, alleging negligent representation. The plaintiff's counsel of record was Douglas LaFramboise.

One key element of the case was LaFramboise's involvement in the negotiations between Horvat and the defendants Rabba Foods and Coopers Limited, the property owner where the forklift injury occurred. These defendants retained LaFramboise to defend them in the forklift action. The court found that LaFramboise's previous role as counsel for the defendants in the original forklift injury claim posed a significant conflict of interest if he represented the plaintiff in an action against Alam Law.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice considered various factors outlined in legal precedents, including the stage of proceedings, the likelihood of the witness being called, and the impact of removing counsel on the party's right to be represented by counsel of choice. The court determined that allowing LaFramboise to continue acting for the plaintiff would detrimentally affect the administration of justice.

The defendants argued that LaFramboise was directly involved in the events that led to the litigation between the plaintiffs and Alam Law. Further, the damages that the plaintiff alleged he suffered all occurred when LaFramboise was counsel for the defendants in the original forklift injury claim.

The court acknowledged that the plaintiff has the right to choose legal representation. However, the court also gave weight to the inherent conflict arising from LaFramboise's previous role, stating that a fair-minded, reasonably informed member of the public would conclude that removing LaFramboise is necessary for the proper administration of justice.

Accordingly, the court granted the defendants' request to remove LaFramboise as counsel of record for the plaintiff.

Related stories

Free newsletter

Our newsletter is FREE and keeps you up to date on all the developments in the Ontario legal community. Please enter your email address below to subscribe.

Recent articles & video

Housing supply needs more public-private collaboration, less red tape, say lawyers

Judicial vacancies holding up construction litigation: litigators

With new federal funding Pro Bono Ontario expanding program for Ukrainian nationals across Canada

Ontario Court of Appeal resolves access rights between parents and maternal grandparents

Ontario Court of Appeal upholds dismissal of statute-barred personal injury claim

Ontario Superior Court rules on admissibility of jury questions in vehicle accident case

Most Read Articles

Ontario Court of Appeal resolves access rights between parents and maternal grandparents

Judicial vacancies holding up construction litigation: litigators

With new federal funding Pro Bono Ontario expanding program for Ukrainian nationals across Canada

Ontario Court of Appeal upholds dismissal of statute-barred personal injury claim