HAMM v CANADA (ATTORNEY GENERAL), 2021 ABCA 190
9.15: Setting aside, varying and discharging judgments and orders
The Appellants were inmates of an Edmonton correctional institution and placed in administrative segregation for 43 consecutive days before successfully applying for habeas corpus to be moved back into the general population. The Appellants bought a civil Action against Canada for the administrative segregation, alleging that this breached their constitutional rights. The Appellants applied for Summary Judgment but were unsuccessful, leading to the one Appeal (the “Summary Judgment Appeal”).
In Ontario, two national class actions were filed regarding administrative segregation. Canada applied for a stay of the Appellants’ Action based on substantial overlap in the facts and legal issues with their Action and the class actions. Canada subsequently applied to the Alberta Court of Appeal to postpone the Summary Judgment Appeal pending determination of Canada’s stay Application. The stay Application was dismissed by a Master but then allowed by a Chambers Judge on Appeal, which had the effect of staying the Action until the conclusion of the class actions or until the Appellants opted out of the class actions. The Appellants appealed the Chambers Judge’s stay decision, leading to another Appeal (the “Stay Appeal”).
The Appellants then brought this Application to have the Summary Judgment Appeal and the Stay Appeal heard together.
The Court noted that pursuant to Rule 9.15, the Court may set aside, vary or discharge an interlocutory Order (a) because information arose or was discovered after the Order was made; (b) with the agreement of every party; or (c) on other grounds that the Court considers just.
The Appellants submitted that the Summary Judgment Appeal raised a distinct legal issue not answered in the Ontario class actions: whether a successful habeas corpus Application by an inmate in administrative segregation holds any evidentiary value in a collateral civil damages claim that advances the tort of false imprisonment for the same deprivation of liberty.
Canada submitted that in the class actions, Summary Judgment had already been granted and that the Appellants were entitled to seek individual damages beyond their portion of the aggregate damages award. Further, the Summary Judgment Appeal was not yet perfected with the intervenor, Alberta Prison Justice Society, having yet to file its factum and Canada having yet to respond to the intervenor factum. Having the Appeals heard together would require parties to draft further facta and prepare for a hearing that may be rendered moot if the Appellants were fully compensated through the Ontario class actions by recovering the amount of damages sought in their Alberta claim.
Feehan J.A. decided that the most efficient and appropriate course was for the Stay Appeal to be heard first. It was premature to raise the topic of whether the Court should decide to answer the unique issue estoppel question despite the potential of mootness. If the Stay Appeal was dismissed, then no further preparation for the Summary Judgment Appeal would need to be done. But if the Stay Appeal is allowed, then the Appellants may then seek to have the Summary Judgment Appeal restored to the fast-track list.View CanLII Details