7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The claim related to a dog bite incident in which a young girl was injured. Two of the Defendants, landlords of the premises where the bite occurred, applied for Summary Dismissal of the claim against them.

Kenny J. noted that Rule 7.3(1)(b) allows for an Application for Summary Judgment where there is no merit to the claim. The Court must consider whether “the claim or defence is so compelling that the likelihood it will succeed is very high such that it should be determined summarily”. Justice Kenny further observed that the Supreme Court has confirmed that Summary Judgment is appropriate “where the Court is able to reach a fair and just determination on the merits”.

Justice Kenny noted that the Applicant landlords did not have sufficient control over the premises to be defined as an occupier under the Occupiers Liability Act, RSA 2000, c O-4, given that the landlord cannot enter the premises, except in an emergency or abandonment situation, without prior consent or permission of the tenant. The Plaintiffs argued that the landlords were liable for negligence for breach of their duty of care to ensure the premises were safe from foreseeable dangers. As this duty is assumed by the tenants, the Plaintiffs were raising a novel argument. They argued further that the standard of care was raised because the landlord required the tenants to do certain things under the lease with respect to pets. Justice Kenny rejected this argument, and held that the pet rules in the lease may have heightened the required diligence on behalf of the tenants, but not so for the landlord.

Summary Judgment was granted as the landlords’ defence was so compelling that the likelihood it would succeed was very high.

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