BOWER v EVANS, 2016 ABQB 717


7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The Action arose from a tank explosion causing death and injury to employees of a corporation. The Plaintiffs sued the individual directors of the corporation, alleging that the accident was caused by their negligence, but did not name the corporation as a Defendant. The Defendant directors were unsuccessful in their Application for Summary Dismissal before a Master, and they appealed the Order.

Justice Belzil noted that the “modern test” for Summary Judgment is, following an examination of the existing record, to see if a disposition that is fair and just to both parties can be made. “Summary Judgment is appropriate when the resolution of the dispute turns primarily on issues of law”.

Belzil J. noted that personal liability of a negligent director is not automatic; there must be something more to establish independent tortious liability. There was no evidence in this case that the directors had any involvement with the work being undertaken on the tank. Even if the Defendants may have been negligent in their corporate capacities, this was not sufficient. Moreover, the evidence did not support a causal link between the alleged negligence and injury to the Plaintiffs. The Masters’ Order was set aside and Summary Dismissal was granted.

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