A former Abbotsford dentist who signed an agreement in 2011 to never practise again has gone to court to have that agreement set aside.
Clarence (Clark) Stelmaschuk says that, although he had proper legal advice that led to him signing the agreement with the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C.(CDSBC), he was in an “acute phase” of bipolar disorder at the time.
As a result, he was “incompetent to understand the legal advice or his rights and responsibilities under the agreement,” according to civil court documents.
Stelmaschuk had his licence suspended in February 2011 after the college received six complaints from 2008 to 2010 involving dental work performed at his practice on Bourquin Crescent West.
According to court documents at the time, the complaints related to “surgical techniques, diagnostic ability, radiographic interpretation, restorative treatment, implants, record-keeping, pain management protocols and patient relations.”
Stelmaschuk fought unsuccessfully to have the suspension lifted.
A hearing had been scheduled to determine the validity of the complaints and whether Stelmaschuk should face any further disciplinary action, but he instead agreed that he would not, in future, practise dentistry anywhere in the world.
He made no admissions of misconduct at the time.
In the recent court documents, Stelmaschuk states that he does not have any detailed recollections from that time, including signing the agreement.
He states that from April to December 2011, he was suffering from “an acute period of mental illness during which he experienced severe depression and anxiety,” mainly brought on by the CDSBC proceedings.
A ruling made Nov. 24 in B.C. Supreme Court has given the CDSBC access to a list of documents related to correspondence between Stelmaschuk and his former lawyers, as well as permission to question those lawyers about Stelmaschuk’s alleged mental competence in 2011 and his apparent understanding of the agreement.
Stelmaschuk had argued that evidence from his former lawyers was not relevant to the case because “the determination of capacity is to be made by medical experts.”