Is summary judgment available in jury cases?
Cooke v. Toivonen (2011), 105 O.R. (3d) 232 (S.C.J.)
This case involved a multi-vehicle automobile collision. The Cooke vehicle was hit from behind by Price, and in turn Cooke hit Toivonen. Toivonen hit the vehicle in front of him.
The plaintiffs consented to an order releasing Toivonen from the action; however, the remaining defendants objected, arguing that to do so would amount to bifurcating the trial. Rule 6.01 permits bifurcation only if all parties consent. In Kovacs v. Kovacs, the Court of Appeal held that jury cases are an exception to the court’s inherent power to split a trial.
The Court held that it has the authority to order summary judgment in jury cases. Summary judgment is not at odds with a litigant’s right to a jury trial. There was no air of reality to a claim that the Toivonen vehicle could be liable and the action and crossclaims against Toivonen were dismissed.