Restriction on Use of Summary Judgment Where Key Issues Turn on Credibility

Bianca Thomas, B.Sc.(Hons.), J.D.Appeals, Real Estate Litigation, Summary Judgment0 Comments

Since the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark decision in Hryniak v Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, summary judgment has been lauded as an effective tool to enhance access to justice and achieve cost-effective results for litigants. Indeed, in recent years, summary judgment motions have become more common, making trials in civil litigation a rare occurrence. But has the pendulum begun to swing now in the opposite direction? The Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Lesenko v Guerette, 2017 ONCA 522, challenges the limits of summary judgment, and outlines that it may not be appropriate in cases where key issues turn on the credibility of the parties. In Lesenko, a husband, his wife, and his sister decided to sell their respective homes and buy a house together. The sister sold her home, and some of those sale proceeds went to pay for the entire purchase price of the subject property. The sister … Read More

Court of Appeal Emphasizes Confidence in Fact Finding on the Record for Summary Judgment

David Alderson, LL.B, LL.M (Commercial and Corporate), Q.Arb, Lawyer and ArbitratorAppeals, Appellate Advocacy, Civil Litigation, Commercial, Commercial Arbitration, Professions, Summary Judgment0 Comments

In Meehan v Good, 2017 ONCA 103, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of the plaintiffs of the dismissal of their claims by summary judgment against their former lawyer, Mr. Cardill. The motion judge had determined that the subject retainer was only with respect to assessment of the accounts of their earlier former lawyer, Mr. Good, and not any possible negligence action against Mr. Good, and thus there was no genuine issue whether Mr. Cardill owed the plaintiffs a duty of care to advise them about the limitation period in relation to a possible negligence action against Mr. Good. The Court of Appeal held that the motion judge’s analysis focused narrowly on the written retainer agreement, and not, as is required when determining if a lawyer owes a duty of care to a client, examining all the surrounding circumstances that define the lawyer and client relationship, when, as was pleaded here that … Read More

Sabrina Singh Wins Precedent Court of Appeal Ruling Affirming Parties Obligations in Summary Judgment Proceedings

Sabrina Saltmarsh, B.A. (Hons), J.D.Summary Judgment0 Comments

Many people believe that if they have a legal case, they are entitled to their “day in court” with a full trial and a chance to tell their story in front of a judge and/or a jury.  They may find out however that their case will be decided based on documents, and lawyers making arguments on a “summary judgment motion”.  The Supreme Court of Canada recently decided that to save time and expense, this process should be used more, and as lawyers we’re seeing more and more cases being dealt with in this way.  If a case or issue really requires a trial (e.g., where credibility of witnesses is critical), the court will permit the matter to go to a full trial. Because these types of motions determine substantive issues in a case, the law requires all parties to “put their best foot forward” and “lead trump or risk losing”.  … Read More

Ontario Court of Appeal Finds Misrepresentation and Breaches of OSC Rulings Against Trump Hotel Developer

Gilbertson Davis LLPCommercial Litigation, Contract Disputes, Summary Judgment0 Comments

In the recently released decision of Singh v. Trump, the Ontario Court of Appeal has reversed a lower court decision and granted summary judgment in favour of two investors in the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Toronto, on the basis that the developer made representations to purchasers that purchasing the hotel condominium units would result in highly profitable rental income. The court found those representations to have been false, and that making those representations was in contravention of a previous Ontario Securities Commission ruling which prohibited the developer from marketing the hotel condominium units as a profit-making investment. The Court of Appeal also reversed the motion judge’s dismissal of claims of oppression, collusion, and breaches of fiduciary duty as against current US presidential candidate Donald Trump and other invidiual defendants, on the basis that those issues were not properly put before the summary judgment motion judge at the motion. The … Read More

Toronto Lawyers for Victims of Investment Fraud: When Investing in a Toronto Business Goes Bad

David Alderson, LL.B, LL.M (Commercial and Corporate), Q.Arb, Lawyer and ArbitratorAppeals, Appellate Advocacy, Broker and Agent Claims, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Commercial Arbitration, Commercial Litigation, Contract Disputes, Fraud, Fraud Recovery, Injunction & Specific Performance, Investment Fraud, Summary Judgment0 Comments

A bad investment may not be the result of market fluctuations. A false representation inducing and leading to an investment loss may be actionable at law. Often there is a promised  high-yield on an investment in a company, project or property.  Sometimes a loss occurs from a scheme where there is no intention by those entrusted with an investment to make the promised purchase or transfer. In Ontario, civil lawsuits for the victims of investment fraud have often been framed as claims for deceit, fraudulent misrepresentation, civil conspiracy,  breach of contract, unjust enrichment and restitution. Increasingly though, plaintiffs in lawsuits simply claim damages for losses arising directly from the tort of civil fraud. The leading case on civil fraud in Canada is the Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2014 in Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, and in that case civil fraud is defined this way “… the tort of … Read More

Vicarious Liability for Vehicle Owners under HTA Based on Possession, not Operation

Gilbertson Davis LLPCivil Litigation, Insurance, Summary Judgment0 Comments

The Superior Court has confirmed that a vehicle owner is vicariously liable for the negligence of another driver under the Highway Traffic Act, even if the owner consents only to the possession of the vehicle, and not its operation on the highway. In Fernandes v. Araujo et al., the owner’s insurer brought a motion for summary judgment stating that the owner was not vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence as the owner had not given permission to the driver to operate the vehicle, an ATV located on the owner’s farm, on the highway, as the driver only had a G1 license and was not licensed to use the ATV on a highway. The insurer attempted to rely on the similar decision of Newman v. Terdik, where the owner was not found to have given consent as he had expressly forbidden the driver from taking the vehicle off his farm and … Read More

Divisional Court Addresses “Best Foot Forward” Requirement on Summary Judgment

Gilbertson Davis LLPAppeals, Civil Litigation, Summary Judgment0 Comments

The recent decision of the Ontario Divisional Court of Pereira et al. v. Contardo found in favour of the plaintiff on a summary judgment motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s personal injury claim as statute-barred. At issue was whether the plaintiff complied with his obligation to put his best foot forward in opposing the motion, as the plaintiff did not file any responding material, and simply relied on the evidence put forward by the defendant to defend the motion. The Rules of Civil Procedure require that a responding party on a motion for summary judgment “must set out, in affidavit material or other evidence, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue requiring a trial”. Rather than file responding material, the plaintiff simply relied on the affidavit evidence put forward by the defendant and argued that the limitation period for his claim started when he received an expert medical report, … Read More

Franchise Rescission Granted Due to Deficient Disclosure

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Civil Litigation, Commercial, Commercial Law, Commercial Litigation, Franchise Law, Summary Judgment0 Comments

The recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in 2337310 Ontario Inc. v. 2264145 Ontario Inc., 2014 ONSC 4370, addressed a partial summary judgment motion brought by the franchisee of a cafe seeking a declaration that it was entitled to exercise its right of rescission under the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000 (“the Act”). The franchisee sought to rescind the franchise agreement approximately six months after entering into the agreement by arguing that the disclosure document provided by the franchisor was so deficient that it amounted to receving no disclosure at all.  In contrast, the franchisor argued that the franchisee was provided with disclosure as required under the Act, and the franchisee was simply attempting to resile from a bona fide transaction due to its own incompetence and inability to operate the business successfully. The Court found a number of deficiencies in the disclosure provided by the franchisor, including failure to provide: (1) … Read More

Partial Summary Judgment Granted for Rescission of Franchise Agreement

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Civil Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Franchise Law, Summary Judgment0 Comments

In the recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in 2147191 Ontario Inc. v. Springdale Pizza Depot Ltd., the plaintiffs brought a partial summary judgment motion seeking to rescind a franchise agreement under the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000 (the “Act”).  After purchasing the business from an existing franchisee, the plaintiffs alleged that they were entitled to receive disclosure from the franchisor but the disclosure received was so materially deficient that it amounted to no disclosure at all.  As a result, the plaintiffs claimed that they were entitled to rescind the franchise agreement within two years of entering into the franchise agreement.  The defendant franchisor argued that it was not required to provide disclosure to the plaintiffs due to its minimal involvement in the sale transaction, or in the alternative, it provided satisfactory if imperfect disclosure which would only entitle the plaintiffs to rescind the franchise agreement within sixty days of receiving the disclosure documents (which had elapsed). Under subsections 5(7) and 5(8) … Read More

Civil Fraud Lawsuit Dismissed on Summary Judgment Motion

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Civil Litigation, Fraud, Summary Judgment0 Comments

In Danos v. BMW Group Financial Services Canada, 2014 ONSC 2060, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dealt with a summary judgment motion brought by the defendants to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims that it forged their signatures on car leasing documents.  The plaintiffs had leased a luxury car from the defendants but failed to keep up with the lease payments.  The defendants took steps to repossess the car and commenced an action to recover its losses.  After receiving the defendants’ productions, the plaintiffs’ allegedly discovered that their signatures were forged on a number of leasing documents, and commenced a fresh action claiming damages arising from the alleged fraud.  The defendants brought a summary judgment motion to dismiss the action. The Supreme Court of Canada in Bruno Appliance and Furniture, Inc. v. Hryniak, 2014 SCC 8, recently summarized the elements of the tort of civil fraud as follows: (1) a false representation made by the defendants; (2) some level of knowledge of the falsehood of the … Read More

Court Grants Summary Judgment in Employment Dispute

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Civil Litigation, Contract Disputes, Employment, Employment & Wrongful Dismissal, Summary Judgment, Wrongful Dismissal0 Comments

In Gregory Smith v. Diversity Technologies Corporation, the Plaintiff employee was terminated by the Defendant company for cause.  The Defendant stated that the Plaintiff had made a sale to a customer despite being specifically instructed not to do so, and that the order disrupted the Defendant’s production process.  The Plaintiff denied that he had been instructed not to sell to the customer. The Defendant argued that a Trial was necessary to resolve the credibility issues.  The Judge disagreed, and, following the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Hyrniak v. Mauldin, stated that there was sufficient documentary evidence to allow the court to carry out a fair and just adjudication of the dispute. The Judge stated that she would consider the Defendant’s case “at its highest and best”, and set aside the credibility issues.  She stated that even if the Plaintiff had disregarded the Defendant’s instructions not to sell to the customer, it was … Read More

Scooter Wars – Defamation Strikes Back

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Commercial Litigation, Injunction & Specific Performance, Summary Judgment0 Comments

In Motoretta v. Twist & Go Power Sports, the Plaintiff and Defendant are two rival GTA scooter stores, engaged in what the Judge called the “Toronto Scooter Wars”.  The Defendant’s Vespa dealership was terminated by the Canadian Vespa distributor.  The Plaintiff remained an authorized Vespa dealer.  The Plaintiff was suspicious that the Defendant had “bad-mouthed” it to customers on an ongoing basis.  In response, the Plaintiff hired private investigators to pose as customers at the Defendant’s store.  The private investigators recorded their conversations with the Defendant, which the Plaintiff alleged were defamatory. The Plaintiff scooter store brought an action for damages for defamation, and for a permanent injunction prohibiting the Defendant from further defaming the Plaintiff.  The action was determined by summary judgment. The Judge found that the Defendant’s statements to the private investigators had defamed the Plaintiff.  The Defendant argued that the statements did not meet the legal test of defamation because … Read More

Leave to Bring Summary Judgment Motion Denied in Dog Bite Lawsuit

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Civil Litigation, Summary Judgment0 Comments

In Dickson v. Di Michele, 2014 ONSC 2513, the plaintiff claimed the defendants’ dog attacked her while she was delivering a pizza and sued the defendants for damages under the Dog Owners’ Liability Act.  After the plaintiff set the action down for trial, the plaintiff brought a motion requesting leave of the court to bring a summary judgment motion with respect to liability and contributory negligence, while leaving the issue of damages for trial.  The defendants argued that leave should be denied since the well-established test required the plaintiff to prove a substantial or unexpected change in circumstances since the action was set down for trial. Justice Bale found that the issue was whether the proposed summary judgment motion was likely to provide a “proportionate, more expeditious and less expensive means to achieve a just result than going to trial”, citing the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Hyrniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7. After considering the evidence, Justice Bale held … Read More

Summary Judgment Granted in Condominium Maintenance and Repair Case

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Civil Litigation, Negligence, Summary Judgment0 Comments

In Patriarcki v. Carleton Condominium Corporation No. 621, 2014 ONSC 1507, the self-represented plaintiff sued her condominium corporation and the condominium corporation’s contractor alleging that they negligently repaired and replaced a boiler in her condominium unit which exposed her to toxic fumes that made her very sick.  The defendants brought a summary judgment motion seeking to dismiss the claims against them. The Court considered the guidance recently provided in the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, with respect to summary judgment motion principles before providing its analysis of the case.  The issue was whether there was a genuine issue for trial in light of the plaintiff’s alleged failure to present any evidence of liability on the part of the defendants. Although the plaintiff relied on a number of medical reports which opined that her health problems were caused by gas leaks from the boiler, the Court found that the … Read More

Court of Appeal Confirms Haunted House is not a Latent Defect in Real Estate Purchase and Sale

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Civil Litigation, Commercial, Summary Judgment0 Comments

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently released its endorsement in 1784773 Ontario Inc. v. K-W Labour Association Inc., 2014 ONCA 288, a case which involved the purchase and sale of a “haunted” commercial property.  In this case, the purchaser sued the vendor after hearing rumours that the property was haunted by ghosts of people who were murdered or had died on the property.  The purchaser alleged that the vendor failed to disclose these latent defects in the property.  The vendor brought a summary judgment motion to dismiss the claims against it. The judge hearing the summary judgment motion held that there was no genuine issue requiring a trial for the following reasons: (i) there was no evidence that anyone died on the property, either by natural causes or some criminal act; (ii) the vendor was not required to disclose that someone had died on the property or that the property may be haunted; (iii) there was no evidence as to how the purchaser could prove … Read More

Mixed Results in Summary Judgment Motion in Parking Lot Slip and Fall Case

Nick P. Poon, B.Sc. (Hons.), B.A., J.D.Civil Litigation, Insurance, Negligence, Summary Judgment0 Comments

In Wiseman v. Carleton Place Oil Inc., 2014 ONSC 1987, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice addressed the summary judgment motion brought by the two remaining Defendants in a case involving a slip and fall in a Tim Hortons parking lot.  The Plaintiff alleged that she broke her wrist when she slipped and fell on accumulated snow along the curb of the drive-through lane.  The owner of the parking lot took the position that they had satisfied their duty of care by contracting out for snow removal on the premises.  The snow removal contractor argued that they had performed all their contractual obligations on the day of the incident. After summarizing the law on summary judgment as set out by Supreme Court of Canada in Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, Justice Pedlar held that there were genuine issues requiring a trial in respect to whether the owner was negligent in designing a parking lot that required customers to step over the drive-through curbing to … Read More

Court Declines to Grant Summary Judgment, But Orders “Summary Trial”

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Medical Malpractice, Negligence, Summary Judgment0 Comments

Kristensen v. Schisler is another decision on the heels of Hryniak v. Mauldin, the Supreme Court case promoting better access to justice through summary judgment.  This case was for professional negligence and battery.  The Plaintiff claimed against the Defendants, a dentist and an oral surgeon, for removing his tooth without consent. The Judge considered the new test set out by the Supreme Court in Hryniak v. Mauldin, stating that “The overarching question to be answered is ‘whether summary judgment will provide a fair and just adjudication’.”  The Judge concluded that he could not grant summary judgment.  He stated that more evidence was necessary to “do justice between the parties” because: 1) the case turned on credibility, the Plaintiff’s in particular; the Plaintiff denied consenting to the tooth removal, even though the Defendants’ records suggested otherwise.  If the Plaintiff were to be found highly credible (presumably after in-court cross-examination), his evidence might “trump” … Read More