7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The Defendants applied for partial Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 7.3(1)(b), on the basis that some of the Plaintiffs’ claims lacked merit. In particular, the Defendants sought to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ defamation claim and a constructive dismissal claim advanced by one of the Plaintiffs, Janet A. Roberts.

As background, the Defendants had dismissed their cashiers without cause. The Plaintiffs were some of these cashiers. Upon termination, the Defendants circulated communications internally and externally alleging that some of the cashiers engaged in theft, with the result that they were all let go and were to be replaced by an automated system. Importantly, the Defendants did not identify which of the cashiers engaged in theft. In support of this position, the Defendants eluded to audits, though none of those audits referred to theft by the cashiers generally or the Plaintiffs specifically.

Neilson J. reviewed the case law on Summary Judgment and found that there are conflicting cases on the required standard of proof for Summary Judgment. However, His Lordship found that regardless of the test to be applied, the Defendants failed to prove that the claims at issue had no merit. Further, Neilson J. held that there were issues of fact and credibility that could not be resolved summarily. As such, upon canvassing the claims and possible defences at issue, Neilson J. ultimately denied the Application for partial Summary Judgment.

His Lordship awarded a single set of Costs for the Application under Column 5 of Schedule C along with reasonable disbursements.

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