Tag: Jurisdiction

Canadian Court Asserts Jurisdiction in Defamation Lawsuit Against Twitter

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing an application to decline jurisdiction of a defamation lawsuit against twitter.

In today’s case (Giustra v. Twitter, Inc.) the Plaintiff brought a lawsuit against Twitter claiming damages and an injunction for defamatory tweets authored by others and relayed on Twitter’s internet platform.  Twitter argued that the lawsuit should be brought in the US and that there the claim was bound to fail as they enjoy the protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, 47 USC (1996), which “protects freedom of speech on the internet by providing internet platforms such as Twitter with immunity against liability for tort claims arising from the dissemination of content from third-party users.

The BC Supreme Court was unpersuaded and found to the extent that the tweets were published in Canada, involving a Canadian plaintiff, making personal allegations against that plaintiff and causing harm to him in Canada with the Defendant having over 500,000 users here the Court was firmly within its rights to accept jurisdiction.  In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Myers provided the following reasons:

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BC Lawsuit For Alberta Car Crash Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, dismissing a BC lawsuit on grounds that it had no jurisdiction over an Alberta based collision claim.
In today’s case (Brooks v. Leithoff) the Plaintiff was involved in a total of 5 collisions.  Four of the five occured in BC.  The third occured in Alberta.  The Plaintiff sued the Alberta motorist in BC alleging the crashes all gave rise to a single indivisible injury.
The Defendant sought to have the claim dismissed on the basis that there was no connection to BC to the crash.  The Court agreed with the Defendant and dismissed the lawsuit.  In doing so and finding the claim should have been filed in Alberta Madam Justice Power provided the following reasons:

[49]         When I consider the plaintiff’s arguments, I am not persuaded that the facts that the plaintiff points to are sufficient to displace what I view to be the clear weight of case law in British Columbia:  neither the plaintiff’s residency in British Columbia, nor the fact of indivisible injuries, nor the fact that the plaintiff is suffering ongoing damages in British Columbia, are, by themselves, sufficient to establish a clear and substantial connection to British Columbia.  When these three elements are combined, do these elements together then prove sufficient to ground jurisdiction?  I cannot conclude that they do.

[50]         During the course of argument, the plaintiff fairly conceded that some of the plaintiff’s arguments related to forums conveniens, which is not something I should take into account at this stage.  The plaintiff may have to mount two separate trials on substantially the same evidence as a result of this ruling, but again, that is not a factor I should take into when determining whether jurisdiction has been established.

[51]         During arguments, counsel for the plaintiff also suggested that if I did not accept that there was jurisdiction under s. 3(e) of the CJPTA, I could nevertheless exercise my residual discretion under s. 6 of the Act to find that this Court has jurisdiction.

[52]         In my view, this argument must fail because the exercise of discretion under s. 6 requires that either a) there is no court outside British Columbia in which the plaintiff can commence the proceeding, or b) that the commencement of the proceeding in a court outside British Columbia cannot reasonably be required.  The fact that the plaintiff has already commenced an action in Alberta leads me to conclude that it is open to the plaintiff to continue litigation of this matter in that jurisdiction.

[53]         During the arguments before me, counsel for the plaintiff also pointed to concerns relating to fairness, and the practical difficulties that Ms. Brooks would face in bringing two separate but essentially identical claims in two separate jurisdictions.  While I appreciate these practical difficulties, there are times when appeals to fairness in the law must yield to the demands for clarity and order in the law.  The words of Mr. Justice La Forest in Tolofson v. Jensen, [1994] 3 S.C.R. 1022 at 1058, although made in a somewhat different context, are nevertheless applicable here:

While, no doubt … the underlying principles of private international law are order and fairness, order comes first.  Order is a precondition to justice.

[54]         Overall, it is my view that the weight of the case law clearly establishes that the facts here are not sufficient to establish a real and substantial connection to British Columbia.

[55]         In the result, the defendant’s application to strike and dismiss the plaintiff’s claim for want of jurisdiction in British Columbia is granted.

 

BC Court Jurisdiction and Out of Province Collisions


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Court of Appeal demonstrating that it will be a rare circumstance where British Columbia Courts will have jurisdiction over a personal injury trial involving an out of Province collision.
In this week’s case (Dembroski v. Rhaindsthe Plaintiff was involved in a car crash in Alberta in 2007.  The Plaintiff was a British Columbia resident and was in Alberta for a short while to do some work as a farrier.    The Plaintiff was injured and unable to perform her work.  She returned to BC shortly after the car crash.  She had the majority of her treatments in BC.
The Plaintiff sued the alleged at fault motorist for compensation in British Columbia.  The Defendant brought a motion to dismiss the claim arguing that BC Courts lack jurisdiction to preside overthis case.  The Chambers judge granted the motion and dismissed the lawsuit.  The Plaintiff appealed without success.  In dismissing the case the BC Court of Appeal held that there will be very few circumstances where a BC Court will have jurisdiciton over an injury claim involving a foreign collision.  The Court provided the following reasons:
[39] A number of previous cases in this jurisdiction have held that the residence alone of a plaintiff in British Columbia does not suffice to establish jurisdiction over a defendant resident outside of the province.  These cases include Jordan v. Schatz and Williams v. TST Porter dba 6422217 Canada Inc., 2008 BCSC 1315, 87 B.C.L.R. (4th) 179.  There must be something more, but what is that “more”?  The appellant suggests that since she has suffered damages here and the appellant and several potential witnesses are here, it would be appropriate for the Supreme Court of British Columbia to take jurisdiction over the action.  The appellant points to certain language in the above cases of Moran, Jordan, Pacific International Securities Inc. and Teja supportive of the thesis that a British Columbia court should be found to possess jurisdiction simpliciter over the respondents in this case…

[42] Moran and Stanway were both product liability cases in which it was held that the tort occurred in that jurisdiction in which harm accrued to a plaintiff via contact with a defective product.  The harm in each case was caused by an item that harmed the particular plaintiff in the place where that injured party resided.  That sufficed to found jurisdiction over a defendant who did not have any physical presence in such location.

[43] As can be seen from those cases, the place where the damage occurred via contact with the item was the crucial factor that underpinned the assumption of jurisdiction.  It seems to me that it was this type of situation that Cumming J.A. had in mind when he observed in Jordan, “Clear examples of connecting factors include the residency of the defendant in the jurisdiction or the fact that the tortious act was committed or damages suffered here” (para. 23).

[44] Jordan was a personal injury case arising out of a motor vehicle accident in another province and this Court held that the residence of the plaintiff in British Columbia did not suffice to found jurisdiction.  Although the plaintiff in that case was undoubtedly considered to suffer damage from the sequelae of the accident here, the incident causative of this damage occurred in Alberta and that was the place properly clothed with jurisdiction over a tort action.  Jordan differs from Moran and Stanway because in those latter cases the harm that resulted in damage was caused by contact between the plaintiffs and harmful objects in the jurisdictions where the respective plaintiffs resided.  No such occurrence constituted the foundation of the cause of action in Jordan, hence it was held the British Columbia courts could not properly take jurisdiction…

[51] It may be that Teja, which I observe was also decided prior to the coming into force of the CJPTA, could be viewed as somewhat of an outlier, whose reasoning should not be extended, but it seems to me that its result can be supported on its rather unusual facts.  It was a case with significant connections to British Columbia, since all parties resided here at the time of the accident and the only vehicle involved was registered here.  The defendant also attorned to this jurisdiction (see s. 3(b) of the CJPTA).  In the instant case, the vehicle of the defendants was an Alberta vehicle, and neither defendant had or has any connection to British Columbia.  They are furthermore unwilling to attorn to this jurisdiction, unlike the defendant in Teja.  I consider attornment to have been crucial to the result in Teja, and therefore a significant distinguishing feature between that case and the present litigation.

[52] In my opinion, the decisions of this Court in classes of cases similar to the instant case, such as Jordan, and the recent decisions of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Roed andWilliams, are supportive of the decision of the chambers judge in the case at bar.  I am in agreement with the conclusion reached by the learned chambers judge and I would dismiss this appeal.

Can British Columbia Residents Sue in BC If They Are Injured Out of Province?


(The decision discussed below was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in 2011, you can find the BCCA judgement here)
British Columbia remains the least ‘tort-reformed” Province in Canada and as a result we can be proud that in most instances BC offers fair adjudication of claims for those injured at the hands of others.  Many other Canadian jurisdictions offer fewer protections with compensation restrictions such as ‘no-fault‘ laws or ‘soft-tissue injury caps‘ on damages.
If a British Columbia resident is injured in another Province can they sue in BC to be compensated for their injuries?  Reasons for judgement were released today considering this issue.
In today’s case (Dembroski v. Rhainds) the Plaintiff was involved in a car crash in Alberta in 2007.  The Plaintiff was a British Columbia resident and was in Alberta for a short while to do some work as a farrier.    The Plaintiff was injured and unable to perform her work.  She returned to BC shortly after the car crash.  She had the majority of her treatments in BC.
The Plaintiff eventually sued the alleged at fault motorist for compensation in British Columbia.  The Defendant brought a motion to dismiss the claim arguing that BC Courts lack jurisdiction to preside overthis case.
Mr. Justice Truscott agreed with the defendants and dismissed the lawsuit.  In doing so he made the following points regarding BC Courts’ jurisdiction to preside over a lawsuit arising from an out of Province motor vehicle accident:

11] The court’s jurisdiction is governed by the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act, S.B.C. 2003, c. 28 (CJPTA), which gives the court territorial jurisdiction in particular circumstances.

[12] From the facts here, the only circumstance set out in the legislation that might give the court jurisdiction is the provision in s. 3(e) that “there is a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which the proceeding against that person is based.”…

[19] Defence counsel cites a number of court decisions in British Columbia that have denied jurisdiction on what are alleged to be similar circumstances, including: Canadian International Marketing Distributing Ltd. v. Nitsuko Ltd. (1990), 56 B.C.L.R. (2d) 130 (C.A.); Aubichon (Guardian ad litem of) v. Kazakoff, [1998] B.C.J. No. 3058 (S.C.); Jordan v. Schatz, 2000 BCCA 409; Sequin-Chand v. McAllister, [1992] B.C.J. No. 237 (S.C.); Williams v. TST Porter (c.o.b. 6422217 Canada Inc.), 2008 BCSC 1315; and Roed v. Scheffler, 2009 BCSC 731.

[20] All of these cases concluded that where a British Columbia resident plaintiff is injured in a foreign jurisdiction and then returns to British Columbia for treatment of injuries, there exists no real and substantial connection with British Columbia to give the courts of British Columbia jurisdiction because the only connection to this province is the fact that the plaintiff is a resident here at the time of the claim.

[21] In Jordan v. Schatz, Mr. Justice Cumming, writing the decision for the Court, said at para. 23:

What constitutes a “real and substantial connection” has not been fully defined. However, it has been well established by this Court in Nitsuko, supra, and in Ell, supra, that there is no real and substantial connection to British Columbia based on the bare residency of the Plaintiff in the jurisdiction. There must be some other or further sufficient connecting factor or “contacts” to this province. Clear examples of connecting factors include the residency of the defendant in the jurisdiction or the fact that the tortious act was committed or damages suffered here.

36] I can see no exception that would be applicable in this case to allow me to depart from the decisions in those cases that have denied jurisdiction to the court when the plaintiff’s only connection to the jurisdiction is the fact she continues to suffer from her injuries while she resides here. To accept jurisdiction here would be to accept jurisdiction for a plaintiff who moves to the jurisdiction after an accident in another province and continues to suffer from injuries here. That cannot be.

[37] There is no real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the facts on which the proceeding against the defendants is based. There may be a real and substantial connection between British Columbia and the plaintiff, but that does not satisfy the words of s. 3.

[38] The action is dismissed for want of jurisdiction. The defendants will have their costs.

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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