Federal Court


Torts

Interference with contractual relations

Contractual relational economic loss

Canada Marine Act and agreements gave plaintiff exclusive possession of and possessory interest in bridge

Corporation, plaintiff, managed and operated bridge that was damaged when vessel, owned by defendants, collided with it. Collision resulted in structural damage to bridge, which required significant repairs and halted passage over and through it for almost six months. Government of Canada established plaintiff as corporation that, at all material times, was not-for-profit corporation charged with management and operation of bridge, which was responsibility that arose out of s. 80(5) of Canada Marine Act and series of management agreements entered into by plaintiff and Crown. These agreements put responsibility on plaintiff to make any necessary repairs to bridge to be conducted at plaintiff’s own expense. Plaintiff commenced action against defendants alleging unseaworthiness of vessel and negligence, and plaintiff asked for damages for cost of repairing bridge. Defendants brought motion for summary judgment that sought to dismiss plaintiff’s action on basis that plaintiff’s losses constituted unrecoverable economic losses. Motion granted in part. Motion was allowed but judgment was granted in favour of plaintiff, because it was found that plaintiff was entitled to recover its losses, as its situation fell within possessory and proprietary exception to general exclusionary rule barring recovery for contractual relational economic loss. It was found satisfactory that Canada Marine Act and agreements gave plaintiff exclusive possession of and possessory interest in bridge, managed asset, for purpose of managing and operating seaway. Accordingly, plaintiff’s claim for its damages incurred in paying for repair of bridge fell within possession or proprietary interest exception and were recoverable relational economic losses. If plaintiff were not permitted to bring this action that sought to recover its actual repair costs, then there would be no deterrence factor and all users of seaway who negligently damaged seaway assets would be free of liability for their actions.

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation v. BBC Lena (Vessel) (2018), 2018 CarswellNat 7507, 2018 CarswellNat 8953, 2018 FC 1026, 2018 CF 1026, Cecily Y. Strickland J. (F.C.).

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