Williams v. Toronto, (2012) 300 O.A.C. 339 (CA)

Judge:Cronk, Juriansz and Pepall, JJ.A.
Court:Ontario Court of Appeal
Case Date:December 17, 2012
Jurisdiction:Ontario
Citations:(2012), 300 O.A.C. 339 (CA);2012 ONCA 915
 
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Williams v. Toronto (2012), 300 O.A.C. 339 (CA)

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Temp. Cite: [2012] O.A.C. TBEd. DE.065

Proceeding Under the Class Proceedings Act, 1992

Terence Williams (applicant/respondent in appeal) v. The City of Toronto (respondent/appellant in appeal)

(C55515; 2012 ONCA 915)

Indexed As: Williams v. Toronto (City)

Ontario Court of Appeal

Cronk, Juriansz and Pepall, JJ.A.

December 28, 2012.

Summary:

Williams was a rooming house tenant in the Parkdale area of the City of Toronto. Under ss. 131(3) and 131(4) of the Residential Tenancies Act, and ss. 136(3) and 136(4) of the predecessor Tenant Protection Act, the City was obliged to notify Williams of a rent reduction brought about by a re-classification of his residence under the Assessment Act. The City failed to give notice. Williams did not know he was entitled to a rent reduction and overpaid his rent. Williams, who was a member of the executive of the Parkdale Residents' Association, sued the City, by way of application, claiming that it was negligent in failing to give the statutorily prescribed notice. Williams moved for certification of his application as a class proceeding.

The Ontario Superior Court, in a decision reported at [2011] O.T.C. Uned. 2832, dismissed the motion on the basis that Williams did not meet the cause of action criterion in s. 5(1)(a) of the Class Proceedings Act. The court ordered the City to pay Williams costs. Williams appealed. The City moved to cross-appeal the costs order.

The Ontario Divisional Court, Pardu, J., dissenting, in a decision reported at 287 O.A.C. 41, allowed the appeal, set aside the order, certified the proceedings as a class proceedings and referred the matter to the Superior Court to make the necessary order converting the application to an action. The court dismissed the City's motion. The City appealed, asserting that the Divisional Court erred in characterizing the nature of the relationship between it and Williams. The City asserted that the facts did not show a specific and special relationship sufficient to ground a cause of action in negligence against the City.

The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Practice - Topic 209.3

Persons who can sue and be sued - Individual and corporations - Status or standing - Class or representative actions - Certification - Considerations (incl. when class action appropriate) - Williams was a rooming house tenant in the Parkdale area of the City of Toronto and a part of the City's Parkdale Pilot Project - Under the Residential Tenancies Act and the predecessor Tenant Protection Act, the City was obliged to notify Williams of a rent reduction brought about by a re-classification of his residence under the Assessment Act - The City failed to give notice - Williams did not know he was entitled to a rent reduction and overpaid his rent - Williams, who was a member of the executive of the Parkdale Residents' Association, sued the City , by way of application, claiming that it negligently failed to give the statutorily prescribed notice - Williams moved for certification of his application as a class proceeding - A motions judge dismissed the motion, holding that Williams did not meet the cause of action criterion (Class Proceedings Act, s. 5(1)(a)) - The Divisional Court allowed an appeal - The Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed the decision - The motions judge examined the statutory regime and the City's obligations thereunder - That was the correct starting point for analysing whether there was a sufficient relationship to found a prima facie duty of care - However, the judge failed to also consider the facts pleaded by Williams regarding the parties' relationship - Further, the plain and obvious threshold test was an exacting one - The issue was whether it was plain and obvious, based on the governing statutory regime and the pleadings, that Williams' claims could not succeed - The material facts pleaded were to be accepted as true and the pleading was to be read generously - Unsettled or novel matters of law should be permitted to proceed - It was not plain and obvious that the facts as pleaded, if proven, were insufficient to establish that the City owed Williams and the other class members a private law duty of care as a result of a specific and special relationship between the parties arising from the Parkdale Pilot Project - The class members fell within a specific group of tenants targeted by the City and it was arguable that there was sufficient proximity to found a prima facie duty of care when the statutory duty to give notice was considered in light of the facts as pleaded - At this early stage, it was not plain and obvious that policy considerations would inevitably operate to negate any private law duty of care.

Counsel:

Mark Siboni and Christopher J. Henderson, for the appellant;

Brendan Van Niejenhuis, for the respondent.

This appeal was heard on December 17, 2012, by Cronk, Juriansz and Pepall, JJ.A., of the Ontario Court of Appeal. The court released the following judgment on December 28, 2012.

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