When a person hears of someone suffering harm in an “accident,” often the first instinct is to assume that the person was injured due to a motor vehicle accident (i.e., an accident that occurs between two motor vehicles). However, there are myriad other types of accidents resulting from which a person may suffer injury, including accidents involving ATVs, motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicyclists, to name a few. While the vast majority of injury-causing accidents that involve moving vehicles relate to cars/trucks/SUVs on the roadways, a case occasionally arises that deals with injury or damage that results from a boating accident. Algra v Comrie Estate is one such case. 

Boat Crashes Into Breakwater Killing Three

The case of Algra v Comrie Estate involved a tragic boating accident that resulted in the deaths of three people. On June 5, 2011, Danny Monteiro, Andrew Comrie, Betty Jo Lynn Algra, Sarah Burns and Danielle Feltham were involved in a nighttime boat crash when the boat in which they travelling crashed into a breakwater south of the Leamington Harbour. While Comrie had been driving at the time of the accident, the boat belonged to Monteiro. Monteiro, Comrie and Burns each died in the accident, and Algra and Feltham each suffered extensive injuries. Comrie’s blood alcohol level was found to be over the legal limit at the time of the accident, in addition to which he had been smoking marijuana earlier in the evening. 

At the time of the accident, the province of Ontario was responsible for the breakwater, while the Corporation of the Municipality of Leamington owned and operated the Marina located in the harbour behind the breakwater. Before the accident, navigation aids had been installed on the breakwater (one at the east end and another on the west end), and sodium vapour lights, visible from the water, had been installed on the marina’s shore.

Two actions were originally commenced after the accident: the Algra Action and the Feltham Action. Algra brought an action against the Estate of Andrew Comrie, the country of Canada, the province of Ontario and the Corporation of the Municipality of Leamington. The Feltham action named the Comrie Estate, the Monteiro Estate, the country of Canada, the province of Ontario, and the Corporation of the Municipality of Leamington as defendants. The actions were consolidated before the court of first instance, and rulings were issued with respect to liability and damages. 

More specifically, on August 4, 2022, a motions judge issued a summary judgment ruling in which liability for the accident was apportioned equally between Comrie and Monteiro, whose actions were found to be the sole cause of the accident. As such, Canada, Ontario and Leamington were all found not liable for the accident. On August 10, 2022, “the motion judge issued a pre-trial determination of a question of law” in which it was held that pursuant to section 19 of the Marine Liability Act, any action for damages related to death or injury arising as a result of a maritime accident is limited to damages of $1,000,000, exclusive of costs and interests. Several months later, on February 15, 2023, the motion judge issued an order fixing the quantum of costs to be paid by each party with respect to the action. In particular, the judge ordered that the Comrie estate be entirely responsible for Algra’s costs associated with the three summary judgment motions.

Parties Appeal Decisions Made On Summary Judgment

In this action, several parties sought to appeal the various judgments of the court. In particular, Feltham and Algra appealed the finding that Canada, Ontario and Leamington bore no liability for the accident. Meanwhile, the Comrie Estate and the Monteiro Estate each appealed the court’s decision with respect to the limitation of liability to $1,000,000 exclusive of costs and interests; they contended that this cap should include costs and interests. In addition, the Estates each appealed the quantum of costs they had been ordered to pay regarding the action, with the Comrie Estate further seeking leave to appeal the order that it was entirely responsible for the Algra’s costs on the summary judgment motions. 

Court Denies All But One Appeal

The court denied the Feltham and Algra appeal concerning the finding of liability because the court was satisfied that the motion judge had appropriately evaluated causation when he considered the potential liability of the government respondents. To that end, the motion judge had concluded that the cause of the accident was not the intensity of the breakwater lights but rather was attributable to the fact that Monteiro and Comrie were paying insufficient attention to their surroundings and travelling too quickly in the circumstances. Moreover, given the direction of travel, the motion judge had been satisfied that Marina’s sodium vapour lights could not have interfered with Comrie and/or Monteiro’s ability to see the breakwater. As the evidence supported these findings, the motion judge’s finding could not be disturbed, and the appeal was denied on this ground.

As to the appeal with respect to whether the $1,000,000 damage limit was inclusive or exclusive of costs and interest, the Court of Appeal noted that the motion judge had carefully considered the Marine Liability Act, including the purpose underlying the legislation, in concluding that “parliament did not intend to include claims for costs and interest” since claims that arise under this legislation “serve different purposes than those for loss of life or personal injury.” Further, since “the role of costs is to ensure that litigation is conducted in an efficient, fair and just manner,” and given that “the role of prejudgment interest is to account for the delay between injury and judgment,” the court dismissed this ground of appeal and ordered the original ruling of the motion judge to stand. 

Concerning the final appeal made by the Monteiro and Comrie Estates regarding the amount of costs each had been ordered to pay, the court noted that the “motion judge properly applied the applicable law and committed no error in making his highly discretionary costs order.” However, it was also noted that the Comrie Estate should not have been made to bear the costs of the Algra actions alone because the Comrie Estate had cross-claimed against the Monteiro estate. In these circumstances, the court allowed the appeal on this one ground and ordered that the costs of the Algra summary judgment motions be equally split between the Comrie Estate and Monteiro Estate.

Ottawa Accident Injury Lawyers Assisting You With Physical And Psychological Injuries From Recreational Accidents

Whether you’ve been involved in a boating, motorcycle, ATV, bicycle or motor vehicle accident, you need good legal representation to help you through the aftermath. Fortunately, Tierney Stauffer LLP is here to help. At Tierney Stauffer LLP,  our team will tenaciously and capably represent you and your needs competently and knowledgeably.  From our offices in downtown Ottawa, the lawyers at Tierney Stauffer LLP are proud to assist Ontarians throughout the capital region with their personal injury needs. 

Contact us online or by telephone at 1-888-799-8057 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.


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