Mehdi-Pour v. Minto Developments Inc. et al, 2011 ONSC 3571 (Divisional Court) (Rule 20 – summary judgment)
Judgment Released: June 8, 2011 Link to Judgment
On an appeal to the Divisional Court from an order of a Master on a motion for summary judgment, where the Master dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim, the plaintiffs/appellants argued that the Master exceeded his jurisdiction under Rule 20.04 as the motion required a decision on a point of law respecting causation. The Divisional Court noted that while Rule 20.04 requires a Master who determines that the only genuine issue for trial is a question of law to adjourn the motion to a judge, the Rule does not mean that a Master cannot apply settled legal principles to the facts of the case, nor does it mean that a Master cannot find that there is no genuine question of law requiring trial. In dismissing the appeal, the Court concluded that the Master had the jurisdiction to apply the legal test for causation to the record before him in determining the motion for summary judgment.
The Court went on to note that the Master, when appropriate, can draw an adverse inference from the failure of a party to lead evidence on the motion. In this case, the Master drew such an inference respecting, among other things, the plaintiffs’ failure to obtain an expert report responding to the expert report relied on by the defendants which directly challenged the basis of the plaintiffs’ claim and, after taking a hard look at the evidence, the Master concluded that the plaintiffs had not led appropriate evidence to support the elements of their claim at trial.