7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The Plaintiff was in upper management at OneExploration Inc (“OneEx”). OneEx entered into a transaction with TriOil Resources Ltd (“TriOil”), the terms of which stipulated that a new management team would take over OneEx. Pursuant to the employment agreement in place between OneEx and the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff was to receive a retiring allowance, as liquidated damages for termination without cause. The transaction closed at the end of January.

In mid-December, the Plaintiff was offered a new position, during a conversation with the CEO of TriOil. The new position would enable him to participate in a private placement. The Plaintiff was told that accepting the position would not impact receipt of his retiring allowance. Prior to the transaction closing, the CEO of TriOil advised the Plaintiff he would not be permitted to commence the new position.

Issues were raised as to whether the Plaintiff was restricted to the dismissal benefits of the initial agreement, whether the Plaintiff was entitled to participate in the private placement and whether any oppression remedies existed. The Court found that the discussion concerning the new position, held between the CEO of TriOil and the Plaintiff, resulted in the existence of genuine issues for trial, with respect to all three issues.

In considering the Application for Judgment, the Court stated:

The bar on a motion for summary judgment is high. A party bringing a motion for summary judgment bears the legal onus of showing no genuine issue for trial. It must be “plain and obvious” or “beyond doubt” that the action will not succeed. Summary judgment should not be granted if opposing affidavits clash on relevant facts. A Justice or Master in chambers should not assess the quality and weight of the evidence, as this is a function reserved for a trial judge. [citations omitted]

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