Isen v. Simms, 2006 SCC 41

Judge:McLachlin, C.J.C., Bastarache, Binnie, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish, Abella, Charron and Rothstein, JJ.
Court:Supreme Court of Canada
Case Date:June 21, 2006
Jurisdiction:Canada (Federal)
Citations:2006 SCC 41;(2006), 353 N.R. 147 (SCC)
 
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Isen v. Simms (2006), 353 N.R. 147 (SCC)

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[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

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Temp. Cite: [2006] N.R. TBEd. OC.007

Stephen Simms and Marla Simms (appellants) v. William Isen (respondent)

(31026; 2006 SCC 41; 2006 CSC 41)

Indexed As: Isen v. Simms

Supreme Court of Canada

McLachlin, C.J.C., Bastarache, Binnie, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish, Abella, Charron and Rothstein, JJ.

October 5, 2006.

Summary:

Isen and Simms returned from boating on Isen's 17 foot pleasure craft. The boat was taken out of the lake, placed on a trailer and moved to level ground. Isen proceeded to se­cure the engine cover by using a bungee cord to prevent it from flapping during road transport. The bungee cord slipped from Isen's fingers and struck Simms in the eye. Simms and his wife sued Isen in the Ontario Superior Court for damages of $2,000,000 and $200,000 respectively. Isen commenced proceedings in the Federal Court, seeking a declaration that his liability was limited to $1,000,000 pursuant to s. 577(1) of the Can­ada Shipping Act. By way of a special case motion pursuant to Federal Court Rule 220(1)(c), Isen asked the court to determine the following question: whether the facts and circumstances that gave rise to the incident which caused Simms' injury constituted "claims arising on any distinct occasion in­volving a ship with a tonnage of less than 300 tons", pursuant to s. 577(1) of the Act.

The Federal Court, in decision reported at 247 F.T.R. 233; 2004 FC 227, held that the Simms' claim constituted a Canadian mari­time law matter which fell within the Federal Court's maritime jurisdiction. The court an­swered the stated question in the affirm­ative. The Simms appealed.

The Federal Court of Appeal, Décary, J.A., dissenting, in a decision reported at 334 N.R. 233; 2005 FCA 161, dismissed the appeal. The court affirmed that the Simms' claim fell within the Federal Court's maritime jur­is­diction. The Simms appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada allowed the ap­peal. The court held that Isen's allegedly negligent acts which gave rise to Simms' in­juries were not governed by federal mari­time law, but rather, were governed by provincial law, and the Canada Shipping Act was not ap­plicable to the Simms' action for damages.

Admiralty - Topic 6030

Principles of law - Canadian maritime law - Application - [See Constitutional Law - Topic 5952 ].

Constitutional Law - Topic 5952

Federal jurisdiction (s. 91) - Navigation and shipping - Scope of power - Isen and Simms returned from boating on Isen's 17 foot pleasure craft - The boat was taken out of the lake, placed on a trailer and moved to level ground - Isen proceeded to secure the engine cover by using a bungee cord to prevent it from flapping during road transport - The bungee cord slipped from Isen's fingers and struck Simms in the eye - Simms and his wife sued Isen in the Ontario Superior Court for damages - Isen commenced proceedings in the Feder­al Court, seeking a declaration that his liability was limited to $1,000,000 pursuant to s. 577(1) of the Canada Shipping Act - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the allegedly negligent acts giving rise to Simms' injuries were not governed by fed­eral maritime law, but rather, were gov­erned by provincial law, and the Canada Shipping Act was not applicable to the Simms' action for damages - The mere in­volvement of a pleasure craft was not suf­ficient to ground Parliament's jurisdic­tion Rather, the court had to look at the al­legedly negligent acts and determine whe­ther that activity was integrally con­nected to the act of navigating the pleasure craft on Canadian waterways such that it was prac­tically necessary for Parliament to have jurisdiction over the matter - Isen's actions had nothing to do with navigation of the boat on water and everything to do with preparing the boat to be transported on Ontario's highways - The provincial legislatures had jurisdiction over the car­riage of cargo on provincial highways - The law concerning Isen's standard of care and liability should be that applied to other users of Ontario highways who made prep­a­rations to transport some form of cargo.

Courts - Topic 4026

Federal Court of Canada - Jurisdiction - Trial Division - Maritime and admiralty matters - [See Constitutional Law - Topic 5952 ].

Cases Noticed:

Miida Electronics Inc. v. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. and ITO-International Ter­minal Operators Ltd., [1986] 1 S.C.R. 752; 68 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 20].

Whitbread v. Walley et al., [1990] 3 S.C.R. 1273; 120 N.R. 109, refd to. [para. 20].

Ordon et al. v. Grail, [1998] 3 S.C.R. 437; 232 N.R. 201; 115 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 21].

Statutes Noticed:

Canada Shipping Act - see Shipping Act.

Shipping Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. S-9, sect. 577(1)(a) [para. 13].

Counsel:

David R. Tenszen, for the appellants;

Geoffrey D.E Adair, Q.C., and Robert M. Ben, for the respondent.

Solicitors of Record:

Thomson Rogers, Toronto, Ontario, for the appellants;

Adair Morse, Toronto, Ontario, for the re­spondent.

This appeal was heard on June 21, 2006, before McLachlin, C.J.C., Bastarache, Bin­nie, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish, Abella, Char­ron and Rothstein, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. The following judgment of the Su­preme Court was delivered by Rothstein, J., in both official languages, on October 5, 2006.

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