7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The Applicant, Wetaskiwin Animal Clinic, applied for Summary Judgment for veterinary services performed for the Respondent, Ms. Hartley, over a period of several years. The amount owing was determined by a settlement agreement reached in May 2016. The Applicant also applied for Summary Dismissal of Ms. Hartley’s Counterclaim which alleged that Wetaskiwin Animal Clinic had provided negligent veterinary services.

The Applicant applied for Summary Judgment and Summary Dismissal pursuant to Rule 7.3. Feth J. noted that Rule 7.3 allows a party to apply for Summary Judgment where “there is no defence to a claim” and a Defendant by Counterclaim may apply for Summary Dismissal if “there is no merit to a claim part of it”. The Court reviewed the approach of the Supreme Court of Canada in Hryniak v Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7 and noted that Summary Judgment is appropriate where the moving party establishes the facts in issue on a balance of probabilities and demonstrates that no genuine issue requires a Trial as in Weir-Jones Technical Services Incorporated v Purolator Courier Ltd, 2019 ABCA 49.

Feth J. found that on the facts, there was no genuine issue that required a Trial. Ms. Hartley had two defences against the settlement agreement: that the calculations were inaccurate and that she signed it under duress. There was no evidence showing that the calculations were inaccurate and there was insufficient merit to the duress argument to warrant a Trial.

Ms. Hartley’s Counterclaim was for professional negligence. Ms. Hartley did not provide an expert report on the standard of care. The animal clinic’s evidence was sufficient to shift the evidentiary burden to Ms. Hartley to establish that there was a genuine issue for Trial. She was unable to meet the burden and the Counterclaim was summarily dismissed.

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