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November 9, 2011

Sheikh v. Pinheiro 2011 ONSC 6143

We thank M. Edward Key of O’Donnell, Robertson & Sanfilippo for this contribution to our blog.

The plaintiff was going westbound in her vehicle and the defendant taxi driver was travelling northbound in his taxi. They collided at an intersection. The defendant taxi then went on to collide with a southbound vehicle. That southbound vehicle did not collide with the plaintiff’s vehicle.

None of the drivers appeared to be hurt. They all went to the same Collision Reporting Center and filled out very detailed collision reports. There was no question who was driving what vehicle.

On the second anniversary of the collision, the plaintiff brought an action against the driver of the southbound vehicle, believing that he was the taxi driver. Essentially, the plaintiff got the other two drivers confused.
Two years after that (i.e. four years after the collision), the plaintiff commenced a separate action against the real taxi driver after realizing the mistake.

The taxi driver brought a motion for summary judgment on the basis that the action was limitation barred.

The plaintiff argued that there was a genuine issue regarding when the plaintiff knew or ought to have known the true identity of the driver that hit her vehicle. The motion judge made short work of that argument. In particular, for strategic reasons, the plaintiff did not swear an affidavit regarding the state of her personal knowledge of the issues, and the motion materials only included affidavits from their lawyers. The judge determined that the information was readily available in the form of the Self Collision Reports.

Alternatively, the plaintiff argued that there was a genuine issue for trial on the basis that she could not "discover" that her injuries were likely to satisfy the Insurance Act threshold until 2 years before she started the second action.
The motions judge rejected the plaintiff's argument. The trial judge considered that the medical evidence was clear that it was "reasonably discoverable" that the plaintiff's injuries met the threshold more than two years before the second action was commenced.

The motion judge looked not only at medical reports, but also relied on the fact that the first Statement of Claim (issued exactly 2 years after the accident) alleged that she sustained "serious and permanent injuries." The motion judge stated at paragraph 47 of his reasons that, "While this action was mistakenly directed against the wrong defendant, this assertion by the plaintiff in the Statement of Claim is akin to an admission that, by at least that time, if not earlier, the plaintiff viewed her injuries from the accident as serious and permanent, and that they had thereby discovered their potential cause of action."

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