Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For this last week:

1. Boucher v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp., 2014 ONCA 419

[49] Pinnock submits that no jury acting reasonably could have found him liable for this tort. I do not agree with this submission. Appellate review of a civil jury award is limited. The standard is “unreasonableness” and this standard applies to liability as well as to amount. A civil jury verdict should be set aside only where it is so plainly unreasonable and unjust that no jury, reviewing the evidence as a whole and acting judicially, could have arrived at the verdict: see Housen v. Nikolaisen, 2002 SCC 33 (CanLII), [2002] 2 S.C.R. 235, at para. 30. In this case the evidence led at trial reasonably supported each of the three elements of the tort of intentional infliction of mental suffering.

[50] Pinnock’s conduct was flagrant and outrageous. He belittled, humiliated and demeaned Boucher continuously and unrelentingly, often in front of co-workers, for nearly six months.

[51] Pinnock intended to produce the harm that eventually occurred. He wanted to get Boucher to resign. To do so, he wanted to cause her so much emotional distress or mental anguish that she would have no alternative but to quit her job. The evidence of Samantha Russell, which was not challenged in cross-examination, and was reviewed by the trial judge for the jury, supports this element of the tort. Ms. Russell testified that Pinnock was “overjoyed” when Boucher resigned because he had achieved his goal.

2. Siskinds LLP v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 2014 ONSC 3211

[38] Both parties submitted that this was an appropriate case to decide by way of their competing motions for summary judgment. I agree. Material facts were not in dispute. At its heart the dispute was one over the interpretation of the contract between the parties. The evidence filed essentially was that which would be before the trial judge on the issue of liability. Having engaged in the first step of the inquiry now mandated by Hryniak v. Mauldin, I conclude that the summary judgment process has provided me with the evidence required to fairly and justly adjudicate the dispute and is a timely, affordable and proportionate procedure, under Rule 20.04(2)(a). As a result, there is no genuine issue requiring a trial.[8]

[39] I also accept that Siskinds’ approach of requesting the Court to consider granting partial summary judgment was appropriate in the circumstances of this case because the issue of liability turned on a quite discrete issue of contractual interpretation. I would also observe that Siskinds did file sufficient expert evidence to provide the Court with some understanding of its proposed methodology for calculating damages and the likely range of the damages it would claim.

3. White v. 123627 Canada Inc., 2014 ONSC 2682

[16] The duty of counsel upon discovering that documents inadvertently provided to him are the subject of a claim of privilege by an opposing party is clear. He is obliged to advise opposing counsel of the mistake, return the documents without keeping any copies of them or, if he reasonably believes that there is an issue as to the propriety of the claim of privilege, the document should be sealed and a court ruling on the issue obtained immediately: Aviaco International Leasing Inc. v. Boeing Canada Inc., [2000] O.J. No. 2420, 48 C.P.C. (4th) 44 (Ont. S.C.), at para. 11; Chan v. Dynasty Executive Suite Ltd., [2006] O.J. No. 2877, 30 C.P.C. (6th) 270 (Ont. S.C.), at para 74; 2054476 Ontario Inc. v. 514052 Ontario Ltd., [2006] O.J. No. 4383, 152 A.C.W.S. (3d) 781 (Ont. S.C.), at para. 39; Heasley v. Labelle, 2013 ONSC 7606 (CanLII), 2013 ONSC 7606, at para. 8.

[17] In this case, plaintiff’s counsel testified during cross-examination on his affidavit that, although he was aware that the statement had been listed in Schedule B of the defendant’s affidavit of documents, he believed that it had been intentionally produced. Schedule B begins with the words, “Documents … that I object to producing on the grounds of privilege.” Plaintiff’s counsel did nothing to investigate the obvious discrepancy between the claim of privilege and the production of the document. Instead, he attempted to use the privileged document for the purpose of cross-examining the witness during his examination for discovery. Not only did he fail to immediately return the document without copying or using it, he refused repeated requests to do so.

[18] Counsel should be presumed to know the proper course to follow when provided with a document over which privilege has been claimed and concerning which no express waiver has been given. While an order removing counsel is not to be issued as an instrument by which to penalize counsel for failing to follow the proper course (Celanese, at para. 54), where counsel proceeds otherwise, he assumes the risk that such an order will be made (Heasley, at para. 8).

The most-consulted French-language decision was Groupe Enico inc. c. Agence du revenu du Québec, 2013 QCCS 5189

[1] Les demandeurs Le Groupe Enico inc. ( ci-après « Enico » ) et Jean-Yves Archambault ( ci-après « JYA » ) poursuivent les défendeurs l’Agence du revenu du Québec ( ci-après « RQ » )[1] et le Procureur général du Québec ( ci-après « PGQ » ) relativement à plusieurs fautes qui leur sont reprochées. Les reproches sont nombreux allant de la cotisation abusive, au délai déraisonnable à corriger des avis de cotisation et projets erronés, que RQ reconnaissait comme tels. Durant cette période RQ s’est accaparé les crédits d’impôt en recherche et développement d’Enico, ce qui a eu pour effet de créer une pression financière énorme sur les demandeurs, jusqu’au moment où, en février 2008, RQ décide de saisir le compte bancaire d’Enico, sans droit et de manière abusive, selon les allégations des demandeurs. Selon eux, ce comportement fautif des défendeurs et de leurs représentants a continué par la suite lors du dépôt des propositions concordataires.

[2] Au surplus, les demandeurs se plaignent d’avoir été tenus dans une noirceur informationnelle tout au long du processus, particulièrement lors des accaparements et de la compensation des crédits d’impôt en recherche et développement, rendant la défense de leurs intérêts difficile, voire impossible.

[3] Qui plus est, les demandeurs allèguent l’existence d’un comportement procédural abusif et ils réclament de nombreux dommages liés tant au fond du dossier, qu’à l’abus allégué au niveau de la procédure. Le montant total des dommages réclamés sous tous les chapitres s’élève à la somme de 12 863 025 $.

* As of January 2014 we measure the total amount of time spent on the pages rather than simply the number of hits; as well, a case once mentioned won’t appear again for three months.

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