Lucia’s Case: Appeal, Civil Litigation, Jurisdiction and Forum non Conveniens


Lucia resides in Ontario with her family, and was involved in a car accident in Michigan. She brought suit in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against the driver and owner of the vehicle, as well as her own insurer given that the Michigan defendants claimed the accident was caused by an unknown vehicle. As they are entitled to do under our Rules of Civil Procedure, the Michigan defendants asked the Superior Court to stay the proceeding against them. They argued the Ontario Courts had no jurisdiction, and the action was properly tried in Michigan. This could have serious implications, as witnesses including family, physicians and other treatment providers would have to travel long distances in order to give evidence. The cost of doing so would be prohibitive. A Superior Court judge agreed with the defendants and stayed Lucia’s court action. Her lawyers appealed the decision. I became involved at that point.


The argument was heard by three judges of the Court of Appeal. At the hearing, the jurisdiction of the Superior Court was conceded, and the argument revolved around whether Ontario or Michigan was the more appropriate forum for determination of the dispute. On Lucia’s behalf, it was argued that given the claim against her own insurer, there was the potential for two parallel actions and a possibility of conflicting decisions.


After listening to the oral arguments of the lawyers and reading the evidence and written arguments, the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed with Lucia that the claim was properly brought in Ontario. The Court held that proceeding in that manner would promote efficiency and justice.