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Civil Litigation - Summary Judgment - General (2)

. VP Auto Sales & Service Ltd. v. Ahmed2 Inc.

In VP Auto Sales & Service Ltd. v. Ahmed2 Inc. (Ont CA, 2024) the Ontario Court of Appeal considers basics of summary judgment, here especially partial summary judgment:
[25] One of the purposes of the summary judgment rule is to eliminate the need for a trial or shorten it or the action. If partial summary judgment can be granted that will meet the purpose of shortening the litigation, this will satisfy the requirements of efficiency and cost-effectiveness: Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, [2014] 1 S.C.R. 87, at para. 60. Furthermore, the Rules of Civil Procedure explicitly contemplate partial summary judgment in circumstances such as this where the only genuine issue for trial is the amount to which the moving party is entitled: Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194, r. 20.04(3).

[26] The motion judge instructed himself properly on the principles of trial efficiency and proportionality arising from Hryniak.
. Rose-Terra Investments Inc. v. Chetti

In Rose-Terra Investments Inc. v. Chetti (Ont CA, 2024) the Ontario Court of Appeal considered the SOR applicable to appealing a summary judgment ruling:
B. Issues and Analysis

[13] The appellant acknowledges the high degree of deference owed to a summary judgment motion judge’s decision: see Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, [2014] 1 S.C.R. 87, at paras. 81-84. However, she submits that the motion judge made extricable legal errors and palpable and overriding errors in his analysis. Specifically, the appellant submits that the motion judge erred by applying the wrong legal test in considering the allegations of undue influence and duress, which in turn led him to incorrectly consider the sufficiency of the legal advice provided to the appellant by her own counsel. As a result, the appellant submits, the motion judge erred in concluding that there were no genuine issues requiring a trial.

[14] I am not persuaded that the motion judge made any reversible errors.

[15] The motion judge applied the appropriate governing principles. He found that the minutes of settlement benefitted the appellant. He also found that she was represented by experienced counsel who represented to respondent’s counsel that the appellant had received legal advice independently from her husband and that she had entered into the minutes of settlement of her own free will and without undue influence or duress. Those findings were open to him on the record.
. Zaidi v. Syed Estate

In Zaidi v. Syed Estate (Ont CA, 2024) the Ontario Court of Appeal considered an appeal argument that the trial judge erroneously proceeded with summary judgment, where a full trial should have been held instead:
(2) Alleged Failure to Direct a Trial

[23] As his second ground of appeal, Mr. Zaidi argues that the application judge ought not to have granted summary judgment because there were factual issues in dispute that depended on an assessment of credibility for their determination. He points to the application judge’s observation at para. 18 of the reasons that “[w]ith these many contentious issues of fact and of credibility, a case like the case at bar typically would be both inappropriate for an application and also inappropriate for a motion for a summary judgment”.

[24] There is no merit to this submission. After making this observation, the application judge went on to explain that (1) it was not necessary on the major issues to make findings of credibility or to choose between the competing versions of events in order to decide the case; and (2) he agreed with the parties that the case could be fairly resolved summarily. What is key is that Mr. Zaidi had commenced an application seeking to enforce the settlement, and that neither party had sought the trial of an issue. Indeed, both sides urged the application judge to determine the case summarily and they indicated that no more evidence would be called if the matter went to trial.

[25] We agree with Ms. Naqvi that, having chosen to proceed in this manner, Mr. Zaidi cannot now complain that it was inappropriate for the application judge to determine the matter as though there were competing motions for summary judgment: Voreon Inc. v. Matas Management Services Inc., 2023 ONCA 745, at para. 37. In any event, there is no reason to interfere with the application judge’s assessment that the matter was suitable for summary determination. This determination is entitled to deference on appeal, in the absence of an extricable error in principle, or a palpable and overriding error: Baywood Homes Partnership v. Haditaghi, 2014 ONCA 450, 120 O.R. (3d) 438, at para. 30. No such error has been demonstrated here.
. Elbassiouni v. Brenn

In Elbassiouni v. Brenn (Ont CA, 2023) the Court of Appeal considered an appeal of a successful summary judgment order emanating from a simplified procedure action, here where the issues were breach of ancillary warranties within an APS ('deficiencies'). In these quotes the court responds to the appellant's argument that the case was not an appropriate one for summary judgment:
[9] This was an appropriate case for summary judgment. It involved a straightforward real estate transaction. In terms of liability, it involved an interpretation of warranties that were drafted in a manner very favourable to the respondent. The motion judge found there was nothing to contradict the respondent’s assertion of her genuine belief. He also found that it was even “[m]ore problematic” that the appellant’s failed to adduce any admissible evidence that they suffered damages as a result of the alleged breaches. On the admissible evidence before him, it was open to the motion judge to reach these conclusions. We are also satisfied that they are explained sufficiently in his reasons.
. Walsh v. Tober

In Walsh v. Tober (Div Court, 2023) the Divisional Court considers the summary judgment standard of 'no genuine issue for trial', which occurs both in the civil rules [R20.04] and the family rules [R16]:
[62] In the SJ reasons, at para. 22, the motion judge set out in full r. 16 of the FLR relating to summary judgment in family proceedings. As is the case with the corresponding rule that governs other civil proceedings (being r. 20 of the Rules of Civil Procedure), the motion judge is required to grant summary judgment if there is no genuine issue requiring a trial: FLR, r. 16(6); RCP, r. 20.04(2)(a). In both cases, the motion judge has enhanced fact-finding powers that entitle the judge to weigh the evidence, evaluate credibility of a deponent and draw any reasonable inference from the evidence, unless it is in the interest of justice for such powers to be exercised only at a trial: FLR, r. 16(6.1), RCP, r. 20.04(2.1). In the SJ reasons, at para. 23, the motion judge appropriately relied on Hryniak, at paras. 47, 49, 50, 53 and 67, in which the Supreme of Canada provided guidance as to how the relevant requirements in r. 20 of the RCP should be applied. The same considerations clearly apply in family proceedings under r. 16 of the FLR.
. Walsh v. Tober

In Walsh v. Tober (Div Court, 2023) the Divisional Court sets out the SOR for a summary judgment decision, here in a family law appeal:
[29] In Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, [2014] 1 S.C.R. 87, at paras. 80-84, the Supreme Court of Canada addressed the application of the appellate standards of review in the context of a summary judgment motion. Relying on the principles in Housen, the Supreme Court found as follows:
a. Absent an error of law, the motion judge’s exercise of powers under the summary judgment rule attracts deference;

b. Where the motion judge exercises their statutory powers and determines whether there is a genuine issue requiring a trial, that is a question of mixed fact and law, reviewable on the standard set out in Housen; and

c. Such deference is also owed to the determination of whether it is in the “interests of justice” for the motion judge to exercise their fact-finding powers in determining whether to grant summary judgment: see FLR, rr. 16(6), 16(6.1); Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194 (“RCP”), rr. 20.04(2), 20.04(2.1).
. Moffitt v. TD Canada Trust

In Moffitt v. TD Canada Trust (Ont CA, 2023) the Court of Appeal canvasses the leading case of Hryniak v Mauldin (SCC, 2014) on basic summary judgment principles, including that it is available in a jury trial:
[24] TD submits the approach taken by the motion judge adhered to the principles for summary judgment motions articulated by the Supreme Court in Hryniak, including that court’s call for a “culture shift” in the civil justice system. The language of r. 20 does not preclude bringing a summary judgment motion in a civil jury action. As well, the motion judge properly applied and considered the three factors Hryniak directs a court to consider in granting summary judgment, namely whether the summary process (i) allows the judge to make the necessary findings of fact, (ii) allows the judge to apply the law to the facts, and (iii) is a proportionate, more expeditious and less expensive means to achieve a just result. In applying that approach, the motion judge correctly treated the existence of a jury notice as one factor to consider in determining whether to grant summary judgment, but not the primary one.


[25] As this court has not previously considered the issue of summary judgment motions brought in civil jury actions, I propose to start the analysis by examining the broad perspective the Hryniak decision brought to the evaluation of civil adjudication tools. I will then place the civil jury trial within that larger context. Next will follow an examination of the scope of the “right” to a civil jury trial. I then will address the approach motion judges should take when faced with a summary judgment motion in a civil jury trial action. Finally, I will apply the principles to the present case.

Hryniak v. Mauldin: A report card on Ontario’s civil justice system

[26] The most recent “report card” on the health of Ontario’s civil justice system was offered almost a decade ago in the Supreme Court’s decision in Hryniak, a case that focused on how courts should implement the summary judgment rule amendments made in 2010. In setting the context for its analysis, the Supreme Court made several observations about the parlous state of Ontario’s civil justice system:
. Most Canadians cannot afford to sue when they are wronged or defend themselves when they are sued and cannot afford to go to trial: at para. 1;

. Trials have become increasingly expensive and protracted. A conventional trial is not a realistic alternative for most litigants: at paras. 1, 4 and 24;

. A “culture shift” therefore is required to create an environment that promotes timely and affordable access to the civil justice system, in part by moving the emphasis away from the conventional trial in favour of proportional procedures tailored to the needs of the particular case: at para. 2; and

. The balance between procedure and access to justice struck by the civil justice system must now recognize that new models of adjudication can be fair and just and that alternative models of adjudication are no less legitimate than the conventional trial: at paras. 2 and 27.
[27] Although improving the health of the civil justice system requires greater use of non-trial models of adjudication, the Supreme Court, at para. 28, emphasized that the principal goal of the civil justice system must remain the same, namely:
[A] fair process that results in a just adjudication of disputes. A fair and just process must permit a judge to find the facts necessary to resolve the dispute and to apply the relevant legal principles to the facts as found. However, that process is illusory unless it is also accessible — proportionate, timely and affordable. The proportionality principle means that the best forum for resolving a dispute is not always that with the most painstaking procedure.
The “menu” of final-adjudication-on-the-merits procedural tools

[28] Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedure offer litigants a “menu” of procedures for the final adjudication of a case on its merits. While every Ontario litigant is entitled to their “day in court”, that day most likely will not involve a trial, much less a civil jury trial. To provide all civil litigants with “the just, most expeditious and least expensive determination of every civil proceeding on its merits,” as r. 1.04(1) requires, the Rules offer a “menu” of procedural tools from which parties may choose to obtain the final adjudication of their proceeding. The “menu” of such final-adjudication-on-the-merits procedural tools includes the following:
. Where the determination of a question of law may dispose of all or part of an action, a party may move before trial for its determination (r. 21.01(1)(a)) or the parties may jointly state a special case: r. 22.01;

. A party may move to strike out the pleading of the opposite party on the basis that it discloses no reasonable cause of action or defence: r. 21.01(1)(b);

. A party may seek to avoid the trial process by choosing to assert its claim by way of an application, rather than by an action: r. 14.05(3). An application is designed to be a faster, less costly procedure than an action. In fact, some statutes require litigants to advance their claims for relief by way of an application, such as the oppression provisions of the Ontario Business Corporations Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. B.16, s. 248(1);

. Where a litigant asserts a monetary or property claim for $200,000 or less, it can utilize the Rules’ simplified procedure process that culminates in a “slimmed-down”, or summary, trial: r. 76;

. The parties can agree to have their dispute determined by the summary judgment process: r. 20.04(2)(b); or

. One party can seek summary judgment by demonstrating that there is no genuine issue requiring a trial with respect to a claim or defence: r. 20.04(2)(a).
[29] Even when a civil proceeding does not settle (as the overwhelming majority do), the Rules’ extensive menu of non-trial procedures available to adjudicate a proceeding, coupled with the increased popularity of the summary judgment motion following r. 20’s 2010 amendments (O. Reg. 438/08), make it more likely than not that a trial will not be the procedural tool that finally determines a civil proceeding.[2]
. G.S. v. Toronto Police Services Board

In G.S. v. Toronto Police Services Board (Div Court, 2022) the Divisional Court set out the requirements of a summary judgment motion:
[28] The parties also agree there will be no genuine issue requiring a trial when the summary judgment process:
(1) allows the judge to make the necessary findings of fact;

(2) allows the judge to apply the law to the facts; and

(3) is a proportionate, expeditious and less expensive means to achieve a just result.
Specifically, there will be no genuine issue requiring a trial if the summary judgment process provides the motion judge with the evidence required to fairly and justly adjudicate the dispute, and is a timely, affordable and proportionate procedure: Hryniak, at paras. 49 and 66.
. Ntakos Estate v. Ntakos

In Ntakos Estate v. Ntakos (Ont CA, 2022) the Court of Appeal considered a court's discretion to hear oral evidence in deciding whether there is a genuine issue for trial when hearing a summary judgment motion:
[39] In addition, I see no merit to the appellants’ argument that the motion judge should have allowed them to conduct a viva voce cross-examination of Gus. On a motion for summary judgment, r. 20.04(2.2) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194, gives a motion judge the power to order oral evidence. However, this is an exercise of discretion: Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, [2014] 1 S.C.R. 87, at para. 68. In this case, it was open to the motion judge to decide that oral evidence was not required for him to determine that the appellants failed to put forward evidence that the settlements were obtained fraudulently or that they were unaware of the fraudulent conduct alleged in the 2019 proceedings until the release of the 2018 Tax Court decision.


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Last modified: 27-06-24
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