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CIVIL PROCEDURE - Disposition without trial - Dismissal of action - Another proceeding pending

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 @ 6:20 AM  

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Application by the defendant Air Canada to dismiss the action based on jurisdiction simpliciter or, alternatively, to stay the action pending final disposition of the proposed class actions. The plaintiffs claimed that Air Canada breached its contractual obligations by allegedly providing an unreasonable alternative for the plaintiffs’ return flight from Australia to British Columbia following cancellation in March 2020 in relation to COVID-19. The plaintiffs declined to return to British Columbia on the alternative itinerary offered by Air Canada and instead purchased their own return flight tickets. The plaintiffs now claimed from Air Canada, among other things, a full refund for those tickets and an additional $10,000 for aggravated or punitive damages. Proposed class actions were instituted in British Columbia and Quebec against air carriers, including Air Canada, involving putative class members seeking refunds in the original form of payment for flights cancelled in relation to COVID-19 in addition to seeking special, general, nominal and punitive damages. The proposed class actions alleged causes of action that included breach of the contract of carriage.

HELD: Application allowed in part. The action was not dismissed based on jurisdiction simpliciter as Air Canada attorned to the jurisdiction of Alberta when it filed an extensive dispute note that defended against the allegations in the civil claim on the merits. However, the action was stayed pending final disposition of the proposed class actions. The causes of action in this action and the proposed class actions arose from the same factual matrices and the same alleged breaches of air carrier contracts. The plaintiffs were potential members of the putative classes in the proposed class actions. The plaintiffs sought the same or similar relief as the representative plaintiffs of the proposed class actions. A stay of the action reduced the risk of inconsistent or varying adjudications of the same or substantially similar legal issues and a multiplicity of proceedings. Finally, the plaintiffs would not suffer irreparable harm. The stay was temporary until certification proceedings were determined and, if certified, until disposition of the proposed class actions occurred.

Wright v. Air Canada, [2021] A.J. No. 209, Alberta Provincial Court, L.L. Burt Prov. Ct. J., February 3, 2021. Digest No. TLD-March222021005