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CIVIL PROCEDURE - Summary judgments - No triable issue

Monday, June 22, 2020 @ 10:21 AM  

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Appeal by the plaintiff from summary judgment striking his claim of constructive trust arising from unjust enrichment. The appellant and the respondent were cousins. The respondents were the executors of their uncle’s estate. In his will, the uncle bequeathed all his farmland and machinery to two of his nephews and nothing to the appellant. The appellant and his uncle farmed together for many years and the appellant supplied labour and materials to the farm. The chambers judge concluded that the evidence did not support a finding that the uncle had been unjustly enriched by the appellant’s actions. The chambers judge concluded the appellant gained more than he lost from the actions and contributions in question and, even if he had suffered a deprivation, any claim of unjust enrichment was defeated by the fact that he acted with a donative intent.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The chambers judge did not err in granting summary judgment. The mere existence of conflicts in the affidavit evidence did not lead inevitably to the conclusion that a trial was required. The conflicts in the evidence were not sufficient to undermine the chambers judge’s decision to grant summary judgment. A large part of the evidence that formed the basis for the chambers judge to conclude that a trial was not necessary came from the appellant himself, in the form of his answers during questioning. Much of what he said when questioned contradicted, or at least substantially weakened, the statements he made in his own affidavits. Detailed affidavits from several witnesses fully addressed the live issues in the summary judgment application. The chambers judge’s factual findings were reasonable and supported by the evidence that was before him on the application. There was nothing in the record to suggest that he ignored or misapprehended any material evidence in concluding that the factual foundation to support a claim of unjust enrichment was not established. The chambers judge was required to examine the evidence and his reasons demonstrated that he did so, even if he did not make written reference to each individual item of evidence. The chambers judge’s determination that the appellant acted with a donative intent was well supported by the evidence of the appellant’s answers during questioning and was not the result of palpable and overriding error.

Kyrylchuk v. Kyrylchuk Estate, [2020] S.J. No. 193, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, R.G. Richards C.J.S., G.R. Jackson and J.D. Kalmakoff JJ.A., May 20, 2020. Digest No. TLD-June222020002