Case Summaries: Intersection Collisions and Manufacturer’s Negligence

Case Summaries provided by: Rikin Morzaria, OTLA Director and personal injury lawyer practising with McLeish Orlando LLP.

Sant v. Sekhon, 2014 ONCA 623

The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by a transport truck driver from a jury verdict.  The transport truck driver had entered an intersection on a green light and hit a pickup truck that ran a red light.  The jury found the pickup truck driver 95% liable and the transport truck driver 5% liable.

The transport truck driver argued that there was nothing in the circumstances that should have alerted  him to the fact that the pickup driver was going to run the red light, and accordingly no basis on which the jury could find negligence.

The Court of Appeal dismissed this ground of appeal on the basis that there was witness evidence and engineering evidence from which a jury could infer that a reasonably prudent driver should have been aware of the hazard posed by the pickup truck.

The Court of Appeal did find that plaintiff’s counsel line of questioning in which he repeatedly asked the transport driver whether is lawyers had instructed him to provide particular answers was improper since its only purpose was to suggest that the transport driver’s evidence had been fabricated.  There was no basis for that suggestion.  However, this improper conduct did not rise to the level of being “sufficiently serious to undermine the fairness of trial or put the validity of the verdicts into real doubt”.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Read the full case on CanLII.

Mitusev v. General Motors, 2014 ONSC 2342

This was a motion for summary judgment by the defendant, Johnson Controls.  The action arose out of a single vehicle collision. During the course of the collision, the injured plaintiff’s seatback failed.  The plaintiff alleged that the failure was the result of a defective recliner mechanism, which was defective both because of its design and its material composition.  Johnson Controls was the manufacturer of the seat, but not the recliner mechanism.  It brought its motion on the basis that there was no act or omission on its part that could be characterized as negligent.  More specifically, it argued that it played no role in the design, manufacture, or assembly of the recliner mechanism, or even in the selection of the mechanism for inclusion in the seat.  The plaintiffs argued that Johnson Controls was unable to produce many of the relevant documents surrounding testing of the seatback or recliner, or of any corrective action taken to address concerns raised by such testing.

Justice Edwards dismissed the motion for summary judgment.  He found that it would be open to a trier of fact at trial to infer that Johnson Controls, in its capacity as manufacturer of a completed seat, was negligent, and that there was a defect in the seat when it left Johnson Controls’ manufacturing plant.  In arriving at this conclusion, Justice Edwards noted that, “Juries are told every day that they may draw reasonable inferences from the evidence even though there is no direct evidence on a particular point.” Read the full case on OTLA.com.

 

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