July 25, 2012 by Canadian Underwriter
Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench has allowed a claim against Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) to proceed despite the fact that the claim has been delayed since 1998, when the action was first launched.
The claim is related to an incident in 1996, when the plaintiff, Marc Wayne Raymond, was involved in an accident near the Village of Sook, B.C. while driving his 1981 Mercedes Benz.
Raymond believed he was covered by MPI since he claimed to be living in Manitoba at the time of the accident. But MPI denied coverage, holding that, since the vehicle was operated and situated in B.C. since 1993, it should have been registered in B.C. under the province’s Motor Vehicle Act.
MPI filed a motion in court to dismiss the action on account of a 13-year delay. The insurer argued that since the claim turned on establishing Raymond’s residency status in 1993, the insurer had been prejudiced by the delay since relevant documentation might not still be available.
Raymond said the delay in proceeding with his claim was based on the fact that he was forced to wait for the outcome of an action in B.C. before he could turn to MPI for indemnification. The legal action against Raymond in British Columbia was finalized on Apr. 14, 2010, by way of a consent order that was entered into between the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) and the party with whom the plaintiff’s vehicle had collided.
The order provided that Raymond was to provide the other party the sum of $100,000.
Raymond initially suggested to the Manitoba court that he might have to delay his action further, until the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) notified of its intent to enforce the judgment against him, which the Manitoba court noted could take until 2030. The plaintiff later backed away from this assertion.
Ultimately, Manitoba’s court sided with Raymond, rejecting MPI’s motion to dismiss the case on the basis of the long delay.
“While the delay has been significant, a relative lack of prejudice has been suffered,” the court ruled. “On the facts before me, I find that the plaintiff’s right to have the case heard on its merits prevails over the defendant’s right to have the matter heard in a timely fashion.”
In remarks that did not affect the outcome, the court noted MPI would indeed suffer prejudice if residency-related documents from the plaintiff turned out not to be available, as Raymond claimed they were.
The full case can be read at: