Buchanan v. United Geophysical Co., (1982) 36 A.R. 451 (NWTSC)

JudgeTallis, J.
CourtSupreme Court of Northwest Territories (Canada)
Case DateApril 26, 1982
JurisdictionNorthwest Territories
Citations(1982), 36 A.R. 451 (NWTSC)

Buchanan v. United Geophysical Co. (1982), 36 A.R. 451 (NWTSC)

MLB headnote and full text

Buchanan, Diesen, Howatt, Porttin, Weeres and Henry v. United Geophysical Company of America, Clancy and Panarctic Oils Ltd. (defendants) and Weeres and Bertram Drilling Ltd. (third parties)

(No. 3228)

Indexed As: Buchanan, Diesen, Howatt, Porttin, Weeres and Henry v. United Geophysical Co. of America, Clancy, Panarctic Oils Ltd., Weeres and Bertram Drilling Ltd.

Northwest Territories Supreme Court

Tallis, J.

April 16, 1982.

Summary:

The plaintiff oil field workers brought an action for damages for personal injuries suffered as a result of a propane tank explosion in a camp-trailer owned and operated by the defendant United Geophysical (U.G.). An employee of U.G. was negligent in handling the propane tank and U.G. violated safety standards. The Northwest Territories Supreme Court allowed the action and held U.G. and its employee liable. The quantum of damages was agreed.

Torts - Topic 14

Negligence - Standard of care - Dangerous situations or imminent danger - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court considered the duty of care when dealing with or supplying dangerous articles, particularly propane gas - The court concluded that the law demanded diligent care, quoting: "The more dangerous the act the greater is the care that must be taken in performing it" - See paragraphs 30 to 32.

Torts - Topic 26

Negligence - Standard of care - Knowledge of hazardous conditions - An employee caused an explosion in forcing the cover off a propane gas tank, which he knew was dangerous - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court held the employee was negligent in failing to exercise reasonable care when handling something extremely dangerous - See paragraphs 33 to 36.

Torts - Topic 40

Negligence - Standard of care - Particular persons and relationships - Hotels, motels and other rented accommodation - An employee of the owner and operator of a trailer for the accommodation of workmen used excessive force in removing a propane tank cover, causing an explosion which injured some workmen - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court stated that the trailer operator owed the workmen a duty to avoid acts which could reasonably be foreseen to injure them - See paragraph 33.

Torts - Topic 62

Negligence - Causation - Intervening causes (novus actus interveniens) - Workmen were injured in a propane gas tank explosion in the trailer in which they lived - The explosion was caused by the negligence of an employee of the operator of the trailer and a volunteer helper in removing the cover from the tank - The workmen claimed that the supplier of the tank was also negligent - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court held that the negligence of the volunteer and the employee constituted a novus actus interveniens, which relieved the supplier from liability for any negligence - See paragraphs 38, 39.

Torts - Topic 2530

Vicarious liability - Master and servant - Employer - Liability for acts of employees - An off-duty workman voluntarily assisted an employee of another company to remove a propane tank cover, negligently causing an explosion and damage - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court held that the volunteer's employer was not vicariously liable for its employee's negligence, because the volunteer was not acting in the course of his employment - See paragraphs 42, 50, 52.

Torts - Topic 2530

Vicarious liability - Master and servant - Employer - Liability for acts of employees - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court held the employer was vicariously responsible for the explosion of a propane tank caused by the negligence of its employee - See paragraph 35.

Torts - Topic 3660

Occupiers' liability for dangerous premises - Use pursuant to contract - Standard of care - Particular premises - Hotels, motels, trailer park - A propane gas tank exploded in a workmen's living trailer as a result of the negligence of an employee of the trailer's owner in removing the tank cover - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court held the owner of the trailer negligent: (1) keeping the tank in the trailer in breach of the Fire Prevention Ordinance; (2) failure to instruct its employee regarding the handling of propane fuel; and (3) failure to supply a suitable tool for the safe removal of the cover - See paragraph 36.

Torts - Topic 7162

Joint tortfeasors - What constitutes - A camp employee recruited the help of an off-duty workman to remove a propane tank cap - The tank exploded because of the excessive force used by the recruit - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court held the recruit was a joint tortfeasor, although he was not a defendant in the action - The court held it was desirable to apportion a degree of fault to him and assigned this at 15% - See paragraph 37.

Torts - Topic 8744

Duty of care - Particular relationships - Claims against rescuers or volunteers - Standard of care - An employee unable to remove a propane tank cover by himself enlisted help from a volunteer - The volunteer used excessive force with a pry bar and caused the propane tank to explode - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court held the volunteer was partially at fault because he was negligent - See paragraph 37.

Workers' Compensation - Topic 4903

Election by claimant - Election to take compensation - Subsequent claim against tortfeasor - Circumstances when allowed - Occupants of a trailer camp injured in a propane gas tank explosion received workmen's compensation - The explosion was caused by the negligent acts of an off-duty workman of another employer and a trailer camp employee - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court held that the off-duty workman was not acting in the course of his employment - The Workmens' Compensation Board order did not affect him or preclude an action against him - See paragraphs 45 to 52.

Practice - Topic 7037

Costs - Party and party costs - Entitlement to party and party costs - Factors reducing entitlement - The Northwest Territories Supreme Court refused to award costs on a higher scale, because counsel did not file their pre-trial briefs within the time prescribed by the Rules - See paragraph 54.

Cases Noticed:

Rylands v. Fletcher (1968), L.R. 3 H.L. 330; 37 L.J. Ex. 161, affirming (1866), L.R. 1 Exch. 265; 35 L.J. Ex. 154, ref'd to. [para. 25].

M'Alister (Donoghue) v. Stevenson, [1932] A.C. 562, folld. [para. 28].

Wild and Wild v. Allied Tiling & Floors Ltd. et al. (1967), 60 W.W.R. 181, ref'd to. [para. 29].

Hodge & Sons v. Anglo-American Oil Co. (1922), 12 Ll. L. Rep. 183, ref'd to. [para. 30].

Read v. J. Lyons & Company, Limited, [1947] A.C. 156, folld. [para. 31].

Ayoub v. Beaupre and Bense, [1964] S.C.R. 448, ref'd to. [para. 31].

Mortimer et al. v. British American Oil Company Limited, [1949] 2 W.W.R. 107, affirmed [1950] 1 W.W.R. 49, ref'd to. [para. 32].

Fenn v. City of Peterborough et al. (1977), 73 D.L.R.(3d) 177, ref'd to. [para. 32].

London Guar. & Acc. Co., Ltd. et al. v. Northwestern Utilities Ltd., [1935] 4 D.L.R. 737, ref'd to. [para. 32].

Dahlberg v. Naydiuk (1969), 10 D.L.R.(3d) 319, ref'd to. [para. 32].

Rosetown Service Garage Ltd. v. Canadian Propane (Sask.) Ltd. and Smith (1966), 56 W.W.R. 45, affirmed 62 W.W.R. 64, ref'd to. [para. 32].

Lamberty et al. v. Saskatchewan Power Corporation et al. (1966), 59 D.L.R.(2d) 246, ref'd to. [para. 32].

Atlas Service Centre Ltd. v. Spence et al. (1968), 66 W.W.R. 95, ref'd to. [para. 32].

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce v. Whiteside et al., [1968] 2 D.L.R.(3d) 611, ref'd to. [para. 32].

Jones v. Shafer, [1948] S.C.R. 167, ref'd to. [para. 38].

Walker Newby & Associates Ltd. v. Paulta Properties & Developments Ltd. (1982), 36 A.R. 473, ref'd to. [para. 39].

Wright v. McCrea, [1965] 1 O.R. 300, ref'd to. [para. 39].

Farrell v. Workmen's Compensation Board (1962), S.C.R. 48, ref'd to. [para. 48].

Rhodes v. McKee Harvester (Alta.) Ltd., 14 Alta. L.R.(2d) 352, ref'd to. [para. 48].

Plaisance et al. v. Brink's Express Co. of Canada Ltd., [1977] 1 S.C.R. 640; 9 N.R. 11, ref'd to. [para. 49].

Rossignol and Rossignol v. Hart, [1956] S.C.R. 314, folld. [para. 51].

Statutes Noticed:

Fire Prevention Ordinance, R.O.N.W.T. 1974, c. F-5, sect. 5 [paras. 13, 36].

Workers' Compensation, R.O.N.W.T. 1974, c. W-4, sect. 3 [para. 44]; sect. 22 [para. 44]; sect. 23 [paras. 41, 46, 47, 51].

Counsel:

W.S. Sowa, for Brian Diesen, Alvin Howatt and James Henry;

M.J. Kelly, for United Geophysical Co. of America and Curt Clancy;

T. Ferguson, for Panarctic Oil Ltd.;

J. Weir, for Bertram Drilling Ltd.

This action was heard by TALLIS, J., of the Northwest Territories Supreme Court. The judgment of TALLIS, J., was filed on April 26, 1982.

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3 practice notes
  • Kletchko v. Gerhardt, (1984) 36 Sask.R. 50 (QB)
    • Canada
    • Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench of Saskatchewan (Canada)
    • July 27, 1984
    ...the trade of which was prohibited. Cases Noticed: Buchanan et al. v. United Geophysical Company of America et al., [1983] N.W.T.R. 358; 36 A.R. 451, refd to. [para. Statutes Noticed: Securities Act, R.S.S. 1978, c. S-42, sect. 2(1)(dd) [para. 34]; sect. 155 [paras. 21, 35]. Counsel: K.W. No......
  • Fullowka v. Royal Oak Ventures, [2004] Northwest Terr. Cases 66 (SC)
    • Canada
    • Northwest Territories Supreme Court of Northwest Territories (Canada)
    • December 16, 2004
    ...Co. of Canada Ltd., [1977] 1 S.C.R. 640; 9 N.R. 11, dist. [para. 782]. Buchanan et al. v. United Geophysical Co. of America et al. (1982), 36 A.R. 451 (N.W.T.S.C.), refd to. [para. Mitrunen v. Anthes Equipment Ltd. (1985), 17 D.L.R.(4th) 567 (B.C.C.A.), dist. [para. 789]. MacLeod v. Canada ......
  • Medicine Hat (City) et al. v. Wilson et al., (2000) 271 A.R. 96 (CA)
    • Canada
    • Alberta Court of Appeal (Alberta)
    • April 13, 2000
    ...Alcyon Shipping Co. v. O'Krane, [1961] S.C.R. 299, refd to. [para. 88]. Buchanan et al. v. United Geophysical Co. of America et al. (1982), 36 A.R. 451 (N.W.T.S.C.), refd to. [para. Berg v. Pigeon Timber Co., [1934] O.R. 357 (C.A.), dist. [para. 94]. Castrique v. Imrie (1870), L.R. 4 H.L. 4......
3 cases
  • Fullowka v. Royal Oak Ventures, [2004] Northwest Terr. Cases 66 (SC)
    • Canada
    • Northwest Territories Supreme Court of Northwest Territories (Canada)
    • December 16, 2004
    ...Co. of Canada Ltd., [1977] 1 S.C.R. 640; 9 N.R. 11, dist. [para. 782]. Buchanan et al. v. United Geophysical Co. of America et al. (1982), 36 A.R. 451 (N.W.T.S.C.), refd to. [para. Mitrunen v. Anthes Equipment Ltd. (1985), 17 D.L.R.(4th) 567 (B.C.C.A.), dist. [para. 789]. MacLeod v. Canada ......
  • Kletchko v. Gerhardt, (1984) 36 Sask.R. 50 (QB)
    • Canada
    • Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench of Saskatchewan (Canada)
    • July 27, 1984
    ...the trade of which was prohibited. Cases Noticed: Buchanan et al. v. United Geophysical Company of America et al., [1983] N.W.T.R. 358; 36 A.R. 451, refd to. [para. Statutes Noticed: Securities Act, R.S.S. 1978, c. S-42, sect. 2(1)(dd) [para. 34]; sect. 155 [paras. 21, 35]. Counsel: K.W. No......
  • Medicine Hat (City) et al. v. Wilson et al., (2000) 271 A.R. 96 (CA)
    • Canada
    • Alberta Court of Appeal (Alberta)
    • April 13, 2000
    ...Alcyon Shipping Co. v. O'Krane, [1961] S.C.R. 299, refd to. [para. 88]. Buchanan et al. v. United Geophysical Co. of America et al. (1982), 36 A.R. 451 (N.W.T.S.C.), refd to. [para. Berg v. Pigeon Timber Co., [1934] O.R. 357 (C.A.), dist. [para. 94]. Castrique v. Imrie (1870), L.R. 4 H.L. 4......

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