Kassburg v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada, 2014 ONCA 922

JudgeWatt, van Rensburg and Pardu, JJ.A.
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ontario)
Case DateDecember 03, 2014
JurisdictionOntario
Citations2014 ONCA 922;(2014), 328 O.A.C. 244 (CA)

Kassburg v. Sun Life (2014), 328 O.A.C. 244 (CA)

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2014] O.A.C. TBEd. DE.046

Karen Kassburg (plaintiff/respondent/appellant by way of cross-appeal) v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (defendant/appellant/respondent by way of cross-appeal)

(C58593; 2014 ONCA 922)

Indexed As: Kassburg v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada

Ontario Court of Appeal

Watt, van Rensburg and Pardu, JJ.A.

December 29, 2014.

Summary:

Kassburg, an employee of the North Bay Police Service and member of the North Bay Police Association, was insured under a group policy issued by Sun Life. Kassburg's claim for long-term disability benefits, which she submitted in 2008, was denied. In 2012, Kassburg commenced an action claiming entitlement to the disability benefits. Sun Life moved for summary judgment, asserting that the action was out of time, as both of the potentially applicable limitation periods, either under the insurance contract or the Limitations Act, had expired.

The Ontario Superior Court, in a decision with neutral citation 2014 ONSC 1523, dismissed the motion and granted a declaration that Kassburg's action was commenced within the applicable limitation period. Sun Life appealed, arguing that the motion judge erred by (1) finding that the contractual limitation period was ambiguous and therefore unenforceable; (2) concluding that the statutory limitation period did not begin to run until after Kassburg had exhausted Sun Life's internal appeal process; and (3) granting judgment in favour of Kassburg and not directing to trial the issue of when the limitation period expired. Kassburg cross-appealed, arguing that the motion judge erred in concluding that the insurance policy constituted a "business agreement" for the purpose of s. 22(5) of the Limitations Act.

The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The cross-appeal was dismissed as moot.

Insurance - Topic 1871

The insurance contract - Interpretation of contract - Limitation period - [See first Limitation of Actions - Topic 9306 ].

Insurance - Topic 3357

Payment of insurance proceeds - Limitation of actions - When limitation period commences - [See Limitation of Actions - Topic 9305 ].

Limitation of Actions - Topic 7

General principles - Interpretation - Scope limited by purpose - [See second Limitation of Actions - Topic 9306 ].

Limitation of Actions - Topic 15

General principles - Discoverability rule - Application of - [See Limitation of Actions - Topic 9305 ].

Limitation of Actions - Topic 2324

Actions in contract - Insurance contracts - When time begins to run - [See Limitation of Actions - Topic 9305 ].

Limitation of Actions - Topic 9305

Postponement or suspension of statute - General - Discoverability rule - Kassburg was insured under a group policy issued by Sun Life - Her claim for long-term disability benefits, which she submitted in 2008, was denied - In 2012, Kassburg commenced an action claiming entitlement to the disability benefits - Sun Life moved for summary judgment, asserting that the action was out of time because the two year limitation period under the Limitations Act had expired - Sun Life asserted that Kassburg discovered the claim on December 4, 2008, when Sun Life initially denied her claim - The motion judge dismissed the motion, concluding that Kassburg discovered the claim on February 24, 2011, the date of the letter in which Sun Life advised her that her final appeal had failed - Sun Life appealed, arguing that the motion judge erred in concluding that the limitation period did not begin to run until after Kassburg had exhausted Sun Life's internal appeal process - The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal - The question of when Kassburg "discovered" her claim was essentially a question of fact - The motion judge did not make an extricable error in principle - His exercise of discretion was entitled to considerable deference - See paragraphs 35 to 49.

Limitation of Actions - Topic 9306

Postponement or suspension of statute - By agreement of the parties - Kassburg was insured under a group policy issued by Sun Life - Her claim for long-term disability benefits, which she submitted in 2008, was denied - In 2012, Kassburg commenced an action claiming entitlement to the disability benefits - Sun Life moved for summary judgment, asserting that the action was out of time because the one year limitation period under the insurance contract had expired - The motion was dismissed - Sun Life appealed, arguing that the motion judge erred in finding that the contractual limitation period was ambiguous and therefore unenforceable - The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal - The insurance policy consisted of a Contract Document and a Booklet, which was incorporated by reference into the contract - The limitation period was expressed in different terms in each - The motion judge considered the wording of the entire contract and found an ambiguity - Because the limitation period was not clear, it was not capable of being enforced - See paragraphs 28 to 34.

Limitation of Actions - Topic 9306

Postponement or suspension of statute - By agreement of the parties - Kassburg, a member of the North Bay Police Association (NBPA), was insured under a group policy issued by Sun Life to NBPA - Her 2008 claim for long-term disability benefits was denied - In 2012, Kassburg commenced an action claiming entitlement to the disability benefits - Sun Life moved for summary judgment, asserting that the action was out of time because the one year limitation period under the insurance contract had expired - Sun Life contended that the contractual limitation period applied because the policy was a "business agreement" under s. 22(5) of the Limitations Act - The motion judge found that the group insurance policy was a "business agreement" based on the fact that it was entered into by NBPA and Sun Life, neither of whom was an individual - The Ontario Court of Appeal held that the motion judge erred in this regard - Based on the clear wording of s. 22(5), there were two requirements for a business agreement to exist: the parties could not include individuals, and the contract could not be for personal, family or household purposes - The motion judge's interpretation of "parties" was inconsistent with the objective of s. 22, which was to restrict the circumstances in which statutory limitation periods could be altered by contract - Kassburg was effectively deemed to be a party for the purpose of asserting her claim, and for the purpose of Sun Life's limitations defence - The contract was for personal purposes, and accordingly was not a "business agreement" under s. 22(5) - See paragraphs 53 to 62.

Practice - Topic 5702

Judgments and orders - Summary judgments - Jurisdiction or when available or when appropriate - Kassburg was insured under a group policy issued by Sun Life - Her claim for long-term disability benefits, which she submitted in 2008, was denied - In 2012, Kassburg commenced an action claiming entitlement to the disability benefits - Sun Life moved for summary judgment, asserting that the action was out of time - The motion judge dismissed the motion and granted a declaration that Kassburg's action was commenced within the applicable limitation period - Sun Life appealed, arguing that the motion judge erred in granting a declaration that determined the limitations question on a final basis instead of directing the issue to trial - The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal - It was open to the motion judge to determine the issue of the limitation defence on a final basis on the record before him - The parties put a comprehensive record before the court, which Sun Life considered sufficient for the limitation period issues to be determined - It was in the interests of justice that the issue be determined on a final basis by the motion judge at that stage - See paragraphs 50 to 52.

Practice - Topic 8825.6

Appeals - General principles - Duty of appellate court on reviewing summary judgment decisions - [See Limitation of Actions - Topic 9305 ].

Cases Noticed:

Boyce v. Co-Operators General Insurance Co. (2013), 307 O.A.C. 28; 116 O.R.(3d) 56; 2013 ONCA 298, leave to appeal refused (2013), 467 N.R. 393 (S.C.C.), dist. [para. 20].

Hryniak v. Mauldin, [2014] 1 S.C.R. 87; 453 N.R. 51; 314 O.A.C. 1; 2014 SCC 7, refd to. [para. 26].

Progressive Homes Ltd. v. Lombard General Insurance Co. of Canada, [2010] 2 S.C.R. 245; 406 N.R. 182; 293 B.C.A.C. 1; 496 W.A.C. 1; 2010 SCC 33, refd to. [para. 30].

Creston Moly Corp. v. Sattva Capital Corp. (2014), 461 N.R. 335; 373 D.L.R.(4th) 393; 2014 SCC 53, refd to. [para. 33].

Longo et al. v. MacLaren Art Centre (2014), 323 O.A.C. 246; 2014 ONCA 526, refd to. [para. 40].

Maracle v. Travellers Indemnity Co. of Canada, [1991] 2 S.C.R. 50; 125 N.R. 294; 47 O.A.C. 333, refd to. [para. 46].

Esau v. Co-operators Life Insurance Co. (2006), 229 B.C.A.C. 1; 379 W.A.C. 1; 55 B.C.L.R.(4th) 11; 2006 BCCA 249, leave to appeal refused (2007), 364 N.R. 391 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 47].

Halter v. Standard Life Assurance Co. of Canada (2013), 557 A.R. 353; 2013 ABQB 99, affd. (2014), 569 A.R. 148; 606 W.A.C. 148; 2014 ABCA 57, refd to. [para. 48].

Statutes Noticed:

Limitations Act, S.O. 2002, c. 23, Schedule B, sect. 22(5) [para. 3].

Counsel:

Duncan McDuff, for the appellant;

Geoffrey Larmer, Andrew Wray and Niiti Simmonds, for the respondent.

This appeal was heard on December 3, 2014, before Watt, van Rensburg and Pardu, JJ.A., of the Ontario Court of Appeal. The following judgment of the court was delivered by van Rensburg, J.A., on December 29, 2014.

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    ...Mobility Inc. (2015), 593 A.R. 79; 637 W.A.C. 79; 2015 NWTCA 3, refd to. [para. 60]. Kassburg v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada (2014), 328 O.A.C. 244; 379 D.L.R.(4th) 665; 2014 ONCA 922, refd to. [para. 60]. De Beers Canada Inc. v. Ootahpan Co. et al., [2014] O.A.C. Uned. 636; 2014 ONCA ......
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    ...Ltd. v. Kamloops (City), 2016 BCCA 173; Sankar v. Bell Mobility Inc., 2016 ONCA 242; Kassburg v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada, 2014 ONCA 922, 124 O.R. (3d) 171; Anderson v. Bell Mobility Inc., 2015 NWTCA 3, 593 A.R. 79; Van Camp v. Chrome Horse Motorcycle Inc., 2015 ABCA 83, 599 A.R. 20......
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    • Canada
    • Mondaq Canada
    • 8 April 2020
    ...1990, c. B.16, s. 248, Maurice v. Alles, 2016 ONCA 287, Hryniak v. Maudlin, 2014 SCC 7, Kassburg v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2014 ONCA 922 Caja Paraguaya de Jubilaciones y Pensiones del Personal de Itaipu Binacional v. Garcia, 2020 ONCA 124 Keywords: Torts, Fraud, Fraudulent Mi......
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  • Stewart Estate et al. v. TAQA North Ltd. et al., 2015 ABCA 357
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Alberta)
    • 19 November 2015
    ...Mobility Inc. (2015), 593 A.R. 79; 637 W.A.C. 79; 2015 NWTCA 3, refd to. [para. 60]. Kassburg v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada (2014), 328 O.A.C. 244; 379 D.L.R.(4th) 665; 2014 ONCA 922, refd to. [para. 60]. De Beers Canada Inc. v. Ootahpan Co. et al., [2014] O.A.C. Uned. 636; 2014 ONCA ......
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    ...Ltd. v. Kamloops (City), 2016 BCCA 173; Sankar v. Bell Mobility Inc., 2016 ONCA 242; Kassburg v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada, 2014 ONCA 922, 124 O.R. (3d) 171; Anderson v. Bell Mobility Inc., 2015 NWTCA 3, 593 A.R. 79; Van Camp v. Chrome Horse Motorcycle Inc., 2015 ABCA 83, 599 A.R. 20......
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    ...Sattva and have deferred to trial courts' interpretations of standard form contracts: Kassburg v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada , 2014 ONCA 922, 124 O.R. (3d) 171, at para. 33; Anderson v. Bell Mobility Inc. , 2015 NWTCA 3, 593 A.R. 79, at paras. 9 and 33-35; Van Camp v. Chrome Horse Mot......
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12 firm's commentaries
  • Court Of Appeal Summaries (February 10 – February 14, 2020)
    • Canada
    • Mondaq Canada
    • 8 April 2020
    ...1990, c. B.16, s. 248, Maurice v. Alles, 2016 ONCA 287, Hryniak v. Maudlin, 2014 SCC 7, Kassburg v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2014 ONCA 922 Caja Paraguaya de Jubilaciones y Pensiones del Personal de Itaipu Binacional v. Garcia, 2020 ONCA 124 Keywords: Torts, Fraud, Fraudulent Mi......
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