N.W.T. health authority asks court to dismiss lawsuit alleging forced sterilization

Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife. A woman from Tuktoyaktuk has filed a lawsuit alleging that an N.W.T. doctor permanently sterilized her without her consent in the fall of 2019. None of those allegations have been proven in court. (Liny Lamberink/CBC - image credit)
Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife. A woman from Tuktoyaktuk has filed a lawsuit alleging that an N.W.T. doctor permanently sterilized her without her consent in the fall of 2019. None of those allegations have been proven in court. (Liny Lamberink/CBC - image credit)

The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority is asking the N.W.T. Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit claiming a Yellowknife gynecologist allegedly sterilized a woman without her consent.

In the lawsuit, launched last year, a woman from Tuktoyaktuk alleged that during a 2019 surgery to address a painful cyst on her right ovary, Dr. Andrew Kotaska removed both her right and left ovaries and both fallopian tubes without her consent, rendering her sterile.

The woman is seeking $1 million in punitive damages against Kotaska and $5 million from the Health Authority, which runs Stanton Territorial Hospital where the surgery took place.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. CBC is not naming the woman due to the private nature of the allegations.

In court documents filed earlier this year, Kotaska denied the allegations and said he removed both ovaries because of an unforeseen medical condition discovered during surgery.

Kotaska said he explained to the woman there could be complications during the surgery which "might justify further surgical interventions" to address her pelvic pain and that the woman gave her informed consent.

In its statement of defence, the health authority says it denies any allegations of negligence and that Kotaska was an "independent medical practitioner granted privileges by [the health authority] to admit and treat his patients in the Stanton Territorial Hospital."

The health authority says any "injuries" the woman suffered were a result of pre-existing or unrelated health conditions.

It's asking the N.W.T. Supreme Court to dismiss the woman's case. The health authority is also asking the court to force the woman to pay for the legal costs it's had to incur to fight the lawsuit.