Canadian Underwriter

Quebec Appeal Court decision may jeopardize protection offered by province’s no-fault auto regime: Lloyd’s

January 24, 2011   by Canadian Underwriter

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Lloyd’s of London, an insurer for the City of Westmount in Quebec, is seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Rossy v. The City of Westmount.
“Lloyd’s of London considers that the narrow approach endorsed by the Québec Court of Appeal creates a dangerous precedent [that] may jeopardize the protection afforded to all Quebecers under the no-fault legal regime provided for under the Automobile Insurance Act,” Lloyd’s wrote in a press release.
Gabriel Rossy was driving his car on Côte des Neiges road on Aug. 1, 2006, when a tree in a nearby wooded area was blown by the wind and fell onto his car, killing him instantly.
The Rossy family sued the City of Westmount for $1.3 million, claiming the city was negligent in its upkeep and maintenance of the tree.
A motion called on the court to dismiss the action because the accident was covered by the no-fault legal regime provided for under the Automobile Insurance Act.
The Quebec Court of Appeal dismissed the motion, deciding the accident was in fact governed by the general rules of civil liability.
“According to the Court of Appeal, the accident was not covered by the no-fault legal regime because Mr. Rossy could have been walking on the street and the tree could nonetheless have killed him,” Lloyd’s said in its release. “The court added that the result would have been completely different if the tree, instead of falling onto Mr Rossy’s car, would have fallen a few feet ahead of the car, with Mr. Rossy’s death resulting from the subsequent impact of the car hitting the tree.”
Lloyd’s of London said it believed the Court of Appeal “failed to apply the proper causality test” and “the Automobile Insurance Act must be given a wide and generous interpretation in order to ensure that victims of car accidents be compensated without having to hire lawyers to sue potentially insolvent wrongdoers.”