NS Court of Appeal allows personal injury lawsuit to proceed despite delay caused by counsel

The court acknowledged the party’s prompt action in retaining legal counsel

NS Court of Appeal allows personal injury lawsuit to proceed despite delay caused by counsel

The NS Court of Appeal has dismissed a limitation defence in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a vehicle collision, allowing the case to proceed despite delay due to counsel’s fault.

The dispute in Magee v. Lauzon, 2024 NSCA 23 revolved around the timeliness of the lawsuit filed by Paul Lauzon against Charles Magee, which was challenged based on the Limitations of Actions Act. The core issue under appeal was whether the lawsuit, filed outside the two-year statutory limitation period due to an oversight by Lauzon's initial legal counsel, should proceed against Magee.

The collision occurred in 2018, when Lauzon, accompanied by his daughter Robin, was hit head-on by Magee's vehicle. Following the accident, Lauzon pursued legal action but filed his notice of action outside the two-year limitation period prescribed by law. This led Magee to plead the limitation as a defence.

However, upon review by a judge under s. 12 of the Limitations of Actions Act, Magee's defence was disallowed, a decision that he subsequently appealed. The appellate court was tasked with determining whether the motions judge made an error in applying s. 12.

In the detailed exploration of the case, the court considered numerous factors, including the reasons for the delay in filing the lawsuit, the hardship caused to both parties and the overall strength of the plaintiffs' case. Significantly, the judge acknowledged the oversight by Lauzon's initially retained counsel, Darlene Lamey, who admitted to losing track of the limitation period due to inadvertence.

After thorough consideration, the NS Court of Appeal found that the balance of hardships favoured allowing Lauzon's claim to proceed, particularly noting Lauzon's prompt action in retaining legal counsel and the strong case against Magee regarding liability for the accident.

The court’s ruling highlighted the discretionary power of judges under the Limitations of Actions Act to allow claims to proceed past the statutory deadline. The court dismissed the appeal and ordered Magee to pay Lauzon's costs.

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