Emails can satisfy the acknowledgement requirement and Forbearance can postpone discoverability of a claim

In University Plumbing v Solstice Two Limited, 2019 ONSC 4276, the Superior Court addressed two questions: (i) whether an email can satisfy the acknowledgement requirement under s. 13(1) of the Limitations Act; and (ii) whether a promise to forbear commencing an action affects discoverability of a claim under s. 5(1)(a)(iv) of the Act. The answer to both questions is yes.

The plaintiff contractor alleged that the defendant project owner owed it money and was in breach of trust under the Construction Lien Act. The plaintiff commenced the action in 2015. The defendant argued that the cause of action accrued on August 30, 2012, the date the invoice was issued and that the action was statute-barred.

Read more

Commencing a claim in the wrong forum does not suspend the running of a limitation period

In Benuik v Leamington, 2019 ONSC 1830, the court addressed the issue of whether the law permits the postponing or suspending of a limitation period simply because a plaintiff brought its claim in the wrong forum. The answer is “no”.

In Benuik, the plaintiffs brought an action before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) against the defendant municipality in 2009 based on an expert report suggesting that damage to the plaintiffs’ home was caused by, or was related to, vibrations from heavy traffic. In 2010, the defendant responded to the plaintiffs’ statement of claim, pleading that the plaintiffs were in the wrong forum.

Read more

Not applying the objective test under s. 5(1)(b) of the Limitations Act, 2002 amounts to a reviewable error, Court of Appeal finds

In Service Mold + Aerospace Inc. v. Khalaf, 2019 ONCA 369, the Court of Appeal concluded that the motions judge erred in principle because she did not apply the modified objective test contained in s. 5(1)(b) of the Limitations Act, 2002 in applying the test for discoverability. Instead, her analysis was a purely subjective inquiry, which amounted to a legal error.

This decision serves as a reminder that both aspects of section 5 must be considered in order to determine discoverability: the subjective test under s. 5(1)(a) – when did the plaintiff have knowledge of the claim? And the modified objective test under s.

Read more

Court of Appeal continues to discourage motions to strike brought under r. 21.01(1)(a) on a limitation issue, except in narrow circumstances

In Clark v. Ontario (Attorney General), 2019 ONCA 311, the defendant attempted to bring a motion under rule 21.01(1)(a) on a limitation issue before it had filed its defence. The motion judge dismissed the motion to strike on the basis that the claim was time-barred, which was upheld on appeal. The Court of Appeal for Ontario reiterated its position that commencing a motion under r. 21.01(1)(a) on limitations matters is discouraged, except for very limited situations where pleadings are closed and the facts are not in dispute. Because the basic limitation period is premised on the discoverability rule, the application of which raises mixed questions of fact and law, there are very few circumstances in which a limitation issue under the Limitations Act, 2002, can properly be determined under r.

Read more

Master reiterates the importance of due diligence in the context of discoverability

In a recent unreported decision in Cooper v. City of Toronto, (9 April 2019), Toronto CV-13-495260 (Ont. SCJ) the Master rejected the plaintiff’s attempt to add Toronto Hydro as a third party to the action, five years after it knew or ought to have known about the claim. This decision highlights the well-known principle that a plaintiff is required to act with due diligence in determining if she has a claim, and a limitation period is not tolled while a plaintiff sits idle and takes no steps to investigate.

The incident occurred on December 31, 2011, when the plaintiff allegedly walked into a light pole on a city sidewalk in Toronto.

Read more

Khalid v 2262351 Ontario Inc.: Third party discoverability grounded in reasonability

Introduction

In negligence-based actions, defendants routinely issue third party claims for contribution and indemnity to reduce their liability exposure. As a result, the plaintiff can commence a claim believing certain defendants to have caused the plaintiff’s loss, but, after successive third party claims, learn that several other persons might have contributed to the loss. To increase the prospect of recovery, the plaintiff often moves to add these third parties as defendants, long-after the impugned act or omission took place.

In these circumstances, third parties should consider whether to oppose a motion to be added as a defendant pursuant to section 21(1) of the Limitations Act, 2002:

21 (1) If a limitation period in respect of a claim against a person has expired, the claim shall not be pursued by adding the person as a party to any existing proceeding.

Read more

Application of the appropriate means test in an action to enforce a foreign judgment

In Grayson Consulting Inc v Lloyd, 2019 ONCA 79, the Court of Appeal considered when a proceeding would be an “appropriate means to remedy a loss” in the context of a claim commenced to enforce a foreign judgment where a Mareva injunction had also been granted.

Grayson obtained default judgment against the respondent in South Carolina on August 20, 2014 (“SC Judgment”). While certain appeals were taken against certain other defendants in the initial action (final appellate decision took effect on March 29, 2016) no appeal was taken from the SC Judgment. In December 2017, Grayson commenced proceedings in Ontario in respect of the SC Default Judgment and also obtained a Mareva injunction against the defendant.

Read more