7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

This Action involved a motor vehicle accident which took place in September 1992. The injured parties, Zawaski and McNamara, commenced an Action for damages against Riendeau. Riendeau did not defend and was noted in default in the “Personal Injury Action”. The Administrator of the Motor Vehicles Accident Claims Act stepped in to defend the claims against Riendeau and consented to Judgments being entered against Riendeau. The Administrator commenced Actions to renew both the Zawaski Judgment and the McNamara Judgment in October 2006 and June 2007 respectively (“Judgment Renewal Actions”). Riendeau then filed Counterclaims in both of those Actions. Subsequently, the Administrator applied for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 7.3, on the basis that Riendeau had no defence to the Judgment Renewal Actions, nor any basis for making the Counterclaim.

Thomas J. first determined that the Administrator had taken the proper steps of issuing new Statements of Claim and filing the Zawaski Judgment Renewal Action and the McNamara Judgment Renewal Action. Next, Thomas J. considered whether Summary Judgment should be granted in both Judgment Renewal Actions. The Application was brought under Rule 7.3 which sets out that the Application must be supported by an Affidavit swearing positively that one or more of the grounds set out in 7.3(1) have been met. Thomas J. noted that Murphy Oil Company Ltd v Predator Corporation Ltd, 2004 ABQB 688, at paragraph 17, set out the well-established and relevant principles regarding an Application for Summary Judgment:

1) A party bringing a Motion for Summary Judgment bears the legal onus of showing that there is no genuine issue for Trial.

2) There is no onus on the responding party to prove a genuine issue for Trial.

3) If the Applicant for Summary Judgment discharges his/her onus on the material filed, a Respondent who does not resist the Application through admissible evidence risks Judgment against him/her. This is an evidentiary burden.

4) There is no obligation on the Respondent to file material. He/she can accept the risk described above. If the Applicant fails to discharge his/her legal onus, the Application will fail.

5) More commonly a Respondent will provide admissible evidence opposing the Motion. The Court will then consider all the evidence to determine whether the Application has shown that there is no genuine issue for Trial.

Rule 7.3 was held to operate in the same manner and follow the same legal principles as was set out in former Rule 159. Thomas J. stated that Applications for Summary Judgment place an obligation on the Court to conduct a careful review to determine whether there are undisputed facts sufficient to resolve the matter. Where there is no factual dispute, there is no purpose to a Trial, as the parties can effectively advance their legal arguments in a Special Chambers Application.

In this case, Thomas J. saw only three issues that required determination: (1) whether there was a Judgment entered against Riendeau in the Personal Injury Action; (2) whether that Judgment had been satisfied; and (3) if that Judgment had not been satisfied, the outstanding amount of the Judgment. Riendeau raised several defences to the Judgment Renewal Actions; however, as the majority of these defences dealt with the original Personal Injury Action, the only allegation that related to issues raised in the Judgment Renewal Actions was whether the Zawaski and McNamara Judgments were properly assigned to the Administrator. Thomas J. was satisfied that this allegation did not raise a genuine issue for Trial and Summary Judgment was granted for both Judgment Renewal Actions. 

View CanLII Details