ALTEX ENERGY v MEYER, 2020 ABCA 368
ROWBOTHAM, MCDONALD AND O’FERRALL JJA
3.72: Consolidation or separation of claims and actions
14.88: Cost awards
The Court heard Altex Energy’s (“Altex”) Appeal of a Case Management Judge’s Decision to consolidate the Actions involving the two Respondents pursuant to Rule 3.72. The Respondents, Meyer and Greg Molaro (“Molaro”), were former employees of Altex who brought claims against Altex for wrongful or constructive dismissal, including allegations of abuse and oppression. In response, Altex filed substantially similar Statements of Defence and Counterclaims, alleging that the Respondents had conspired to act contrary to Altex’s interests, therein breaching nearly identical provisions of their respective employment agreements.
Rule 3.72 states that two Actions may be consolidated for any reason the Court considers appropriate, including that the Actions (a) have a common question of law or fact, or (b) arise out of the same transaction or occurrence or series of transactions or occurrences. On Appeal, Altex argued that further evidence beyond the pleadings was required to satisfy Rule 3.72.
In dismissing Altex’s Appeal, the Court of Appeal noted that the Case Management Judge consolidated the Actions due to the high degree of similarity of the pleadings and legal arguments which would be advanced at Trial. The Case Management Judge found that the allegation that the Respondents conspired weighed most strongly in favour of consolidation. The Court found that the Case Management Judge had complied with Alliance Pipeline Limited v Universal Ensco Inc, 2007 ABCA 285, which provides that the reliance on pleadings for consolidation is permissible where the pleadings “clearly contain the same factual allegations” and where “the extent of the commonality” is “clear on the face of the pleadings”.
Additionally, the Court of Appeal noted that the Case Management Judge had found that Altex’s allegation that the Respondents conspired to resign at the same time in order to cause maximum disruption to Altex’s business gave rise to a possibility of inconsistent verdicts if tried separately. Moreover, the Case Management Judge found that a single Trial would use less resources given the significant factual overlap.
Finally, the Court stated that if the Respondents were to seek Costs pursuant to any Rule other than the default Rule 14.88, which awards Costs to the successful party on Appeal, they would have 20 days to file written submissions.View CanLII Details