The Defence Wins – Nanette Kufeldt and Kunal Nand successfully appealed the decision of a Master dismissing a Summary Judgment Application. The Court of Queen’s Bench set aside the Master’s decision and dismissed the Plaintiff’s Action against the Directors of his corporate employer for injuries arising from a work-related accident.
Director’s Liability – Bower v. Evans, 2016 ABQB 717
Pursuant to section 23 of the Worker’s Compensation Act an injured worker is prevented from suing his employer for injuries on the job site. In this particular case, the Plaintiff was a worker inside a tanker with another worker when the light they were using caused an explosion killing the other worker and injuring the Plaintiff. The two Directors of the corporation were the wife of the deceased worker and her sister. The deceased worker and the husband of the other Director essentially ran the company. The wives (the Directors) had no real involvement in the company. The Plaintiff, precluded from suing his employer, attempted to circumvent section 23 of the Act and brought an action against the two Directors of the company alleging negligence and (essentially) dereliction of their duties as Directors.
The Court in hearing a Summary Judgment Application brought by the Defendants, confirmed Corporate Directors may be liable for their action (or inaction) only in situations where they owed a personal duty of care to the Plaintiff and where the actions were independently tortious.
In this case, the Plaintiff provided no evidence to suggest the acts or omissions of the two Directors were independent of their duties within the corporation and therefore could not be found to constitute an independent tort. The Court further confirmed there is no authority for the proposition that a director who fails to carry out the duties of a director, or is negligent in doing so, is personally liable.
Finally, the Plaintiff had not provided any evidence to establish a causal link between the acts or omissions of the two Directors and the accident which caused the Plaintiff’s injuries.
Mr. Justice Belzil set aside the Master’s decision below and dismissed the Plaintiff’s Action with Costs.