Focus On

CROWN - Actions by and against Crown - Negligence by Crown

Tuesday, February 19, 2019 @ 9:04 AM  

Lexis Advance® Quicklaw®
Appeal by the plaintiffs from the summary judgment dismissing their negligence claim against the respondent Water Stewardship Department. The plaintiffs claimed because of the negligence of the respondents, in the way they implemented and operated water management and water-flow policy, their farmland experienced significant flooding every year. The plaintiffs specifically alleged that the municipality of De Salaberry had removed bridges and replaced them with culverts that were inadequate to handle the water flow. They alleged the respondent was negligent in failing to properly supervise the municipality and in failing to properly address the plaintiffs’ concerns. The respondent had provided advice and recommendations to the municipality regarding the flooding on the plaintiffs’ land. It had issued licences to the municipality approving drainage works affecting the plaintiffs’ land. Its representative had met with the plaintiffs and the municipality to discuss the flooding. The motion judge found the plaintiffs had not established the necessary proximity for a duty of care.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The existence or lack of a direct relationship between the parties was an important factor in evaluating proximity but was not determinative. The motion judge erred by misdirecting herself on what could constitute a series of specific interactions. She construed the test too narrowly and essentially interpreted specific to mean direct. The motion judge should have considered the meeting and reports as part of the specific interactions test. She should have decided that the question of whether there was a series of specific interactions that established the necessary proximity for a duty of care was a genuine issue for trial.

Ruest v. Manitoba (Water Stewardship Department), [2019] M.J. No. 1, Manitoba Court of Appeal, B.M. Hamilton, H.C. Beard and J.A. Pfuetzner JJ.A., January 8, 2019. Digest No. TLD-February182019001