This week at the SCC

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the following five appeals this week:

Feb. 13 — Quebec — City of Westmount v. Richard Rossy
Commercial law: The family of a man who was killed when a tree fell on his car sued the City of Westmount for $1.3 million, claiming it was liable for not maintaining the tree. The city sought to dismiss the action on the grounds that the damage was caused by an automobile and compensation was governed by the Automobile Insurance Act. The family is also seeking changes to the province’s no-fault automobile insurance law. The Quebec Superior Court allowed the city’s motion and dismissed the family’s claim. That decision was later set aside by the Quebec Court of Appeal.

Feb. 14 — Newfoundland & Labrador — R. v. T.L.M.

Criminal law: The complainant’s uncle was convicted of sexually assaulting her when she was eight to 10 years old. The trial judge admitted an agreed statement of facts relating to his prior conviction for sexually assaulting another eight-year-old girl. The Court of Appeal allowed the uncle’s appeal and ordered a new trial. The issue is whether the trial judge erred in admitting the similar fact evidence. There is a publication ban in the case.

Feb. 15 — British Columbia — Sam Tuan Vu v. R.

Criminal law: After forcibly confining a man for eight days after he was abducted by others, Sam Tuan Vu was convicted of forcible confinement but acquitted of kidnapping. The Crown appealed the acquittal and the B.C. Court of Appeal convicted him of kidnapping on the basis that he was a party to the offence. There is a publication ban in the case.

Feb. 16 — Quebec — Riccardo Bellusci v. R.

Criminal law: Inmate Riccardo Bellusci was charged with assaulting a correctional officer. He claimed he had been assaulted by the officer and was acquitted at trial. Bellusci had also been charged with using violence against a justice system participant but the trial judge granted a stay of proceedings. The Quebec Court of Appeal set aside the stay of proceedings and remitted the case back to the trial judge.

Feb. 17 — British Columbia — Joan Clements, by her Litigation Guardian, Donna Jardine v. Joseph Clements

Torts: Joan Clements sued her husband after she was severely injured while riding on a motorcycle he was driving. The trial judge found the husband was negligent and therefore liable for his wife’s injuries. The B.C. Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Joseph Clements by setting aside the trial judge’s order and dismissed Joan’s action.

Update: The Supreme Court will also release its decision in S.L. v. Commission scolaire des Chênes on Feb. 17 at 9:45 a.m. The case, originating in Quebec, questions whether parents have the right to choose their children's education as it relates to religious instruction. The appeal was heard on May 18, 2011.

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