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June 26, 2013

Limitation Periods in Claims for Contribution and Indemnity

The Court of Appeal recently commented on limitation periods in claims for contribution and indemnify, clarifying that s. 18 of the Limitations Act imposes a two year limitation regardless if the claim is based in contract or tort.

In Canaccord Capital Corp. v. Roscoe, [2013] ONCA 378 (C.A.), the defendant was an investment advisor employed by the plaintiff, an investment dealer.  The employment agreement provided that the defendant would indemnify the company for any claim arising out of his acts or omissions in the course of his employment.  In 2008, two clients sued Canaccord and Roscoe for losses they sustained in an investment for which Roscoe was their advisor.  Canaccord filed a joint defence and did not crossclaim against Roscoe for indemnity.  The claim was settled in 2009 without Roscoe's involvement.  Canaccord issued a claim for indemnity in 2011, more than three years after the initial claim.  Roscoe brought a summary judgment motion on the basis that the limitation period had expired.  The motions judge held that that s. 18 of the Limitations Act does not apply to indemnity claims arising out of contract.  She held that the claim was not one for contribution and indemnity, but rather one of a breach of the employment contract.  She held the limitation began to run from the settlement date.

Roscoe appealed and the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal.  Section 18 refers to "wrongdoers", not just "tortfeasors" and so is broad enough to include claims arising out of contract.  The limitation began to run when Canaccord was served with the claim, and accordingly, the action was out of time.

June 19, 2013

Threshold Motion Successful

The defendants in a recent jury trial succeeded on a threshold motion.  In Ryckman v. Pottinger, 2013 ONSC 2857 (S.C.J.), the plaintiff had been in two motor vehicle accidents 11 months apart.  The plaintiff entered into a Pierringer Agreement with the first defendant and proceeded to trial against the second defendant.   The jury assessed global damages at $175,000 and the defendant at trial was responsible for 10% of the figure.  General damages would have been $3,500.

In granting the threshold motion, Justice Parayeski noted that an accident by accident analysis is required; just because a plaintiff met threshold in one case does not mean she will in another. Justice Parayeski inferred from the jury awards that they did not accept the submissions of the plaintiff as to her damages. It appeared the jury did not find the plaintiff credible. There was an observable difference between the plaintiff's appearance at court versus on surveillance. Ultimately, the damages awarded were so small as to lead to the conclusion that the plaintiff did not meet the threshold.  The second accident caused no more than a minor exacerbation of the injuries she sustained in the first accident.

June 12, 2013

Leave Required for Refusals Motion After Set Down

Does a party need leave to continue a refusals motion after it has set the action down?

In Jetport v. Jones Brown, 2013 ONSC 2740 (S.C.J.), the parties brought motions seeking answers to questions refused on examination for discovery.  Although the motions were commenced in May 2012, they were not completed and were adjourned to November 2012.  They were still not completed and further dates in April 2013 then October 2013 were scheduled.  In February 2013, trial was scheduled for May 2015.  

One of the issues on the motion was whether the plaintiff required leave to bring the motion pursuant to r. 48.04(1) since it had set the action down for trial.  The plaintiff argued that it did not require leave based on rule 48.04(2), which provides that r. 48.04(1) does not relieve a party from any obligation imposed by r. 31.07 (failure to answer on discovery).

Master Graham held that the plaintiff required leave.  There is no obligation on a party to answer questions refused on discovery and therefore a motion to compel answers does not fall within s. 48.04(2) so a party that has set the matter down must seek leave to initiate or continue a motion to compel answers to refusals. 

It appears there are two differing lines of case law on this issue.  Counsel should be cautious about setting an action down if there are outstanding refusals they wish to pursue.

June 5, 2013

Further Defence Medical Ordered After New Evidence Produced

In Low v. Clarke, [2013] OJ. No. 1703 (S.C.J.), the defendant brought a motion seeking to compel the plaintiff to attend a further defence medical with a neurologist.

The plaintiff was examined by a neurologist, Dr. Upton.  Following the examination, the plaintiff served over 400 photographs of the plaintiff post accident.  According to Justice Glithero, the photographs appeared to show the plaintiff in various physical activities that were inconsistent with what she had previously reported to doctors.  The defendant filed a letter by Dr. Upton stating that a further examination would be important and useful to his opinion at trial.

Justice Glithero cited with approval a number of factors from Bonello v. Taylor, 2010 ONSC 5723:

1.  The request may be legitimate where there is evidence the plaintiff's condition has changed or deteriorated.  Justice Glithero added to this factor: where new evidence is disclosed and is material to the opinion and to any proper assessment of the extent and nature of injuries sustained.
2.  Trial fairness should be the guiding principle.
3.  Ordering further examinations may be just where they are necessary to enable the defendant to fairly investigate and call reasonable responding evidence at trial.

Justice Glithero allowed the motion and ordered a further examination.  Although these types of motion are largely fact specific, it is important to remember the guiding principle of fairness when deciding what evidence to present to the court.