Ontario Court hits the brakes on duties owed to intoxicated plaintiffs

The expansion of recognized duties of care owed to intoxicated persons recently met resistance from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. In Stewart et al. v. The Corporation of the Township of Douro-Dummer, 2018 ONSC 4009, the Plaintiff was one of four passengers in a taxi cab who was intoxicated and injured after the cab was involved in an accident. The cab driver was not at fault in the actual accident. The Plaintiff did not have his seat belt buckled up at the time of the accident, which resulted in more serious injuries. By the time the action got to trial, the only issue was whether the driver owed the Plaintiff a duty of care to ensure his seat belt was buckled on the basis that it was apparent to the driver that the Plaintiff was intoxicated and, therefore, vulnerable and unable to look after himself.

Read more

When a cancellation isn’t a cancellation: Cancelling an insurance policy under the Alberta Insurance Act

When it comes to cancelling an insurance policy, both insurers and insureds need to complete the mandated steps; otherwise, they could potentially face a dispute as to whether or not coverage should occur.

The recent decision from Justice Warren of the British Columbia Supreme Court in McBrien v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2018 BCSC 553 reinforces the need for attention to all the details when it comes to cancelling an insurance policy.

The facts

On June 30, 2007, the plaintiffs in the action were injured in a single vehicle car accident that occurred in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Both plaintiffs were owners named in an owner’s certificate issued by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), which entitled them to third-party liability coverage under the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation, BC Reg.

Read more

A reminder from the BC Supreme Court that in the absence of ambiguity, courts will give effect to the ordinary meaning of insurance policy language

In a recent decision, Surespan Structures Ltd. v. Lloyd’s Underwriters, 2018 BCSC 1058, the British Columbia Supreme Court (the “Court”) had to determine whether a Design-Builder and an Engineer were “Insureds” for the purposes of a project-specific professional liability insurance policy. This is an important decision for insurers, insureds and professionals providing coverage advice, as the Court provided a comprehensive and detailed summary of the law on the interpretation of insurance policy contracts.

Background

The Design-Builder and Engineer sought a declaration that they were Insureds under a project-specific professional liability insurance policy that had been obtained by a third party, the Registered Professional of Record for the Project.

Read more

Liability pitfalls and defences for Directors and Officers under federal and provincial cannabis legislation

Introduction

On October 17, 2018, the lion’s share of the federal Cannabis Act1 and the Ontario Cannabis Act20172 took legal effect, marking the legalization of non-medical cannabis across Canada, within defined limits. Directors and officers of federal and provincial corporations in the legal cannabis sector now operate in a new and dynamic regulatory climate.

As with any regulated industry, directors and officers should apprise themselves of the legal pitfalls in the post-legalization world, and liability insurers should prepare carefully for the potential risks that might shadow the cannabis market in its early days.

At a minimum, liability insurers should consider (a) new offences to which directors and officers are exposed, (b) what procedures are in place with respect to those offences, (c) what penalties might a director or officer be liable to pay, and (d) what defences are available, if any.

Read more

What’s in a name? When is an “unnamed insured” entitled to insurance proceeds?

Is it possible for a party not named in an insurance policy to be entitled to insurance proceeds under that policy? In short, it is. Parties who are not a “named insured” under an insurance policy can be eligible to receive insurance proceeds directly as a replacement for lost property that was covered under the policy of insurance. University of Alberta Professor Barbara Billingsley describes “unnamed insureds” as follows:

Named insureds are mentioned by name in the contract as persons to whom insurance proceeds are payable. Typically, named insureds are the purchasers of the insurance. In contrast, unnamed insureds are not mentioned by name in the contract but are entitled to receive insurance benefits because they fall within a particular class of person covered by the contract. 

Read more

Usanovic v. Penncorp Life Insurance Co.

Common law contract and principles require an insurer’s duty of good faith to an insured. The Ontario Court of Appeal (the “Court”) has recently confirmed that this duty does not include a general obligation to provide notice of an insured’s limitation periods and for bringing a coverage claim against the insurer.

The Court l has recently confirmed that where there is no statutory provision to the contrary, the window of time in which an individual can sue their insurer remains open for two years. In 2017, the Court held that insurance providers do not have a duty to inform insureds of pending limitation periods.

Read more

Public policy and certainty in insurance coverage: Court of Appeal upholds certainty of terms in Funk v. Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company

A recent decision of the Court of Appeal of Alberta, Funk v. Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, 2018 ABCA 200, has restored certainty for both insurers and insureds in the scope of coverage under standard form automobile insurance policies. Dentons Canada LLP represented Wawanesa in this case. This note is based solely on facts in the public record of the Court.

Facts and the lower court decision

This decision arose out of an action on a SEF 44 Family Protection Endorsement (SEF 44). The Plaintiff, Mr. Funk, was injured in a single-vehicle rollover accident. While driving on a road at night, Mr.

Read more