Catherine L. Woods, QC
Catherine Woods, Q.C. practises in the area of health care litigation defending hospitals and nurses throughout British Columbia in medical malpractice claims with an emphasis on obstetrical malpractice and serious brain injury claims. Catherine also advises hospitals on quality assurance matters, freedom of information requests, patient confidentiality issues, consent to treatment and withdrawal of life support. She is a frequent lecturer on the standards of nursing practice, medical malpractice law and quality assurance reviews and has taught the Trial Advocacy Course, Faculty of Law, UBC and medical-legal ethics, Faculty of Medicine, UBC. In 2017, Catherine was named a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America.
Legal Industry Recognition
- 2017 – named a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America
- 2005 – appointed Queen’s Counsel for the province of British Columbia
- Consistently recognized by legal peer review publications The Canadian Lexpert Directory and Best Lawyers in Canada (2015-2017) as a leading lawyer in the fields of medical negligence and personal injury litigation
- Recognized as “Lawyer of the Year” in medical negligence by Best Lawyers in Canada 2017
- Top 25 Women in Litigation in Canada 2016 – Benchmark Litigation
- Martindale-Hubbell Ranking: Distinguished Peer Rated for High Professional Achievement
- Allen v Bishop of Victoria 2016 BCSC 1078
Ms. Woods successfully defended Saint Joseph’s General Hospital in this obstetrical malpractice case in which it was alleged that the hospital had failed to conduct adequate fetal heart monitoring during the progress of labour and had failed to recognize signs and symptoms of fetal distress during the second stage of labour. The trial judge found that the nursing staff met the expected standard of care and that the method they used for the monitoring of the fetal heart was appropriate and conscientiously applied and revealed no cause for concern and, accordingly, the plaintiff’s claim was dismissed.
- Nagase v Entwistle 2016 BCCA 257
Ms. Woods successfully represented Interior Health Authority in this claim commenced against them by Dr. Nagase alleging defamation. The documents that Dr. Nagase wished to rely upon for the purposes of his defamation suit were prohibited from production in any civil proceeding by virtue of the operation of section 51 of the Evidence Act of British Columbia. The Hospital applied in the Supreme Court for an Order striking Dr. Nagase’s claim on this basis and was successful. Dr. Nagase Appealed. Dr. Nagase’s Appeal was dismissed and the Court of Appeal upheld the prohibition from production contained in Section 51 of the Evidence Act and held that the legislature had chosen to absolutely protect communications made concerning the evaluation or investigation of medical staff.
- Cojocaru v. BC Women’s Health Centre 2013 SCC 30
Ms. Woods successfully defended British Columbia Women’s Hospital and Nurse Florence Bellini in a cross-appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in a case involving a seriously brain-damaged young boy who was delivered by emergency caesarean section at BC Women’s Hospital following a uterine ruptured suffered by his mother. One of the major issues to be considered in this decision was whether a trial judge’s unattributed adoption of plaintiffs’ counsel’s submissions as his reasons for judgment make the reasons incapable of appellate review.
- Cojocaru (Guardian ad litem of) v. BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre 2011 BCCA 192
This was the appeal decision in which Ms. Woods was counsel for BC Women’s Hospital. The BC Court of Appeal overturned the trial judge’s decision in favour of the plaintiff’s finding that the trial judge’s adoption of plaintiffs’ counsel’s closing submissions as his reasons for judgment made the decision incapable of appellate review.
- Sivertson (Guardian ad litem of) v. Dutrisac 2011 BCSC 558
Ms. Woods acted for the Capital Health Region and several daycare licensing officers who were sued for having allegedly failed to properly investigate a daycare at which the infant plaintiff was seriously injured. The case against the Capital Health Region and the daycare licensing officers was dismissed on the basis that there was no private law duty of care owed to the plaintiff, and even if there were it would be abrogated for public policy reasons.
- Steinebach v. Fraser Health Authority 2010 BCSC 832
Ms. Woods acted for the Fraser Health Authority in the defence of an obstetrical malpractice claim in which the infant plaintiff suffered a serious brain injury following a placental abruption.
- Kahlon v. Vancouver Coastal Health Authority 2009 BCSC 922
Ms. Woods acted for UBC Hospital in the defence of a significant personal injury claim arising out of the delay in diagnosis of spinal meningitis due to a late reporting of CT scan results.
- Birrell v. Providence Health Care Society 2009 BCCA 109
This case involved the interpretation of the ultimate limitation period of six years for a claim against physicians and hospitals. The Court of Appeal reinforced the fact that discoverability does not apply to the ultimate limitation period and that it began to run from the time the cause of action arose and was not postponed until the nervous shock was suffered by the plaintiff upon learning of the medical error made.
Professional + Community Affiliations
- Law Society of British Columbia, Member
- Medical Legal Society of British Columbia, Member
- Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (Health Law, Civil Litigation and Insurance Law Sections), Member
- Insurance Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch, Past Chair
- 1984 Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
- 1983 LL.B., Dalhousie University
- 1980 B.A. (with Distinction), University of Calgary