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Monday Morning Case Bites for June 1, 2020

Last Week’s Court Rulings from the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, Court of Appeal and SCC.

Edited by Amanda Kostek & Steven Graham

Pulkinen v Crowsnest Pass (Municipality), 2020 ABPC 91
Provincial Court | Costs Awards

The issue in this case was Provincial Court Costs.  The Municipality successfully defended a claim brought by the Plaintiff for damages arising out of a damaged curb.  Although the Municipality was successful, the Court concluded that the parties would bear their own costs on the following basis: 

[11]           Although a successful litigant has by law no right to costs, the general rule is that costs follow the event:  see for example, Blue Range Resource Corp (re) (2001), 2001 ABCA 177.  A judge of course has discretion to depart from this rule provided there is a good reason to do so.  The discretion is one which must be exercised according to the circumstances of each particular case and the materials before the court:  see the discussion in The Law of Costs, Chapter 2.1 – Discretion as to Costs. 

[12]           In the case at bar I have concluded that the Plaintiffs’ action was neither frivolous or vexatious and, to the contrary, raised a valid issue for determination by the Court:  that is to say whether the Municipality was responsible to repair a curb which everyone agreed was in need of some repair. 

[13]           The Plaintiffs did not hire counsel and attempted to conduct the action on their own which is reasonable given that the matter was before the Provincial Court – Civil Division. 

[14]           I further note that the Plaintiffs, on two prior occasions, had a similar problem which they attempted to resolve directly with the Defendant.  On this, the third occasion, they also attempted to deal directly with the Defendant to resolve this matter.  These attempts were not successful. 

[15]           The Defendant’s application to set aside the noting in default and its pre-trial application with respect to the presentation of expert evidence and the calling of a witness, were also successful, but I have not concluded that the need for these applications arose because of any particular fault of the Plaintiffs who were untrained in legal proceedings. 

[16]           In conclusion I have decided that the Defendant is only entitled to reasonable disbursements and otherwise each party shall bear their own costs in this matter.  …