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CIVIL PROCEDURE - Striking out pleadings or allegations - Grounds

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 @ 6:11 AM  

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Appeal by the plaintiff, a self-represented litigant, from a decision striking his statement of claim because it failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action and was frivolous and an abuse of process. The appellant was being supervised by the respondent Corrections and Policing because of entering an undertaking and recognizance. The appellant’s claim related to how two of his probation officers discharged their supervisory function and how they dealt with some of the discretionary aspects of his release conditions. The appellant claimed that the probation officers agreed to let him work in Alberta but then revoked that permission. He argued because of their steadfast and inflexible position, he had to forgo lucrative employment in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. He claimed damages in excess of $300,000 for loss of wages and other expenses, along with damages for loss of reputation in the industry. He argued that the officer’s rescission of her permission was arbitrary, inconsistent with the governing legislation, irrational and motivated by a desire to punish him for his past criminality or set him up to be in breach of his conditions. The appellant did not specify any cause of action by name in his pleadings.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The chambers judge erred in failing to assess the appellant’s claim through the lens of the tort of misfeasance in public office which caused her to reach the erroneous conclusion that no cause of action had been pleaded. While the pleadings did not specifically identify the tort of misfeasance in public office by name, the basic elements of this cause of action were capable of being discerned from the whole of the pleadings. The statement of claim laid out a narrative about three well-paying jobs that the appellant either lost or had to forgo because of the actions or inactions of his probation officers. He alleged breach of an understanding he had with one of his probation officers in relation to a position in Alberta. An examination of the whole of the pleadings supported his claim because it focused on the actions and inactions of probation officers in their capacity as public servants, the impugned conduct pertained to the exercise of powers by the probation officers, the probation officers knowingly acted unlawfully, and he suffered compensable damages caused by the actions and inactions of the probation officers.

Harpold v. Saskatchewan (Ministry of Corrections and Policing), [2020] S.J. No. 302, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, L.M. Schwann, B. Barrington-Foote and J.A. Tholl JJ.A., August 12, 2020. Digest No. TLD-September212020004