Sigh

I’ve set out excerpts from just-released reasons. The words in square brackets are my comments.

Farrell v. The General of the Salvation Army, 2011 ONSC 317

  • [2] The Plaintiff’s Amended Statement of Claim (“the Claim”) comprises 226 pages and 2,589 paragraphs, some incorrectly numbered. The Claim names 62 Defendants but contains repetitions of some of them. The claims against eight of the Defendants have been dismissed.[1] There are currently claims against only 13 Defendants.
  • [3] The damage claim is $1,030,681,760. The Claim arises from alleged experiences the Plaintiff had during an 18 month stay at the Hope Shelter, an emergency hostel for the homeless operated by the Salvation Army and funded by the City. The Plaintiff was employed at the time he stayed there and, among other things, blames the Salvation Army and its directors and officers and the City and its directors, officers and employees for him losing his job. The Plaintiff alleges he incurred damages as a result of the loss of employment and his treatment at the shelter.

[The reasons don't explain the make-up of the $1,030,681,760. Maybe it's the HST. Or maybe it's is an actual total of the alleged loss of income added to the other amounts claimed. You have to figure, though, that Mr. Farrell is being just a bit greedy. I mean, after the first $1 billion, what difference will a few million make here or there? DC]

  • [7] Courts applying Rule 25 have taken a dim view of pleadings so incoherent and tedious as to make them indecipherable to the defendant. Defendants are entitled to know with certainty the case they have to meet. The plaintiff has the onus of ensuring their pleadings satisfy the rules governing pleadings drafting. A defendant should not have to undertake the task of parsing through unintelligible, longwinded pleadings to attain an understanding of the claim . . .
  • . . .
  • [8] I agree with The Defendants’ description of the Claim. It is a lengthy, repetitive, arduous and a confused mix of statements that allege a host of wrongs by Salvation Army and the City Defendants. . . . 

[I'd have written a "legion of wrongs", rather than a "host of wrongs" - think KJV here - but, maybe the motion judge decided not to mix too many metaphors]

  • [40] The Plaintiff’s claim falls woefully short of satisfying the rules for drafting pleadings. Many of his claims contain no cause of action known at law or are deficiently pleaded as I have set out above. Those pleadings that contain no cause of action known at law, and those for which there is no basis in the context of the Plaintiff’s circumstances, must be struck out without leave to amend. I strike out fraudulent concealment, fraudulent non-disclosure, malice, and nuisance without leave to amend.
  • . . .
  • [43] Given the poor state of the Amended Statement of Claim, I strike it out in its entirety. This means the Plaintiff is required to draft a further amended claim from scratch. The Plaintiff should undertake amendments to each cause of action allowed in accordance with the principles I have set out above for each. I strongly caution the Plaintiff to comply with the drafting rules and I offer as guidance the following summary of what is required: …

 [the motion judge set out suggestions in paragraphs numbered (a)-(i): DC]

Leave it that, while the the guidance is clear enough that somebody who already understands the principles involved should understand the guidance ….

Anyway, is anybody surprised to be told that the plaintiff is acting for himself?

Given that the original pleading “comprises 226 pages and 2,589 paragraphs, some incorrectly numbered” does anybody believe it is realistic to conclude that the next pleading is going to be significantly different.

The costs order?

  • [45] Both parties had a measure of success on this motion. The parties shall bear their own costs of the proceeding.

One might differ with the motion judge on the costs order – essentially the motion judge gave the defendants the most she could give them so why not make a (probably) symbolic costs order in their favour, too? – but her hands were tied on the remedy she could give the defendants, at this stage. There could be a valid cause of action or three pleaded in the mess. So, she had to give him another chance. Still, does anybody believe that the next version of the statement of claim will be substantively different?

DC

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Comments

  1. In Mr. Farrell’s defence, the reasons don’t indicate whether his tome was single- or double- spaced (or space and a half). And, I should concede, if it’s single spaced, it’s almost 1/3 shorter than at least one article I’ve published. (What can I say? I’d left the subject alone for the better part of 24 years. There were a few words that needed to be said.)