Ontario Superior Court orders insurer to disclose documents in fatal motor vehicle collision case

The court also directed the insurer to safeguard the defendant’s interests despite disclosure

Ontario Superior Court orders insurer to disclose documents in fatal motor vehicle collision case

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has mandated an insurer to disclose documents in a lawsuit arising from a catastrophic motor vehicle collision and directed it to safeguard the defendant’s interests.

The dispute in Jones et al. v. Manzon et al., 2024 ONSC 1205 involves the production of documents in a case stemming from a tragic motor vehicle accident in 20168. The accident resulted in three fatalities and serious injuries to a surviving occupant.

The plaintiffs sought the production of documents from the defendant’s insurer, Aviva Insurance Company. The plaintiff’s insurer, Security National Insurance Company, supported the plaintiffs’ motion to produce these documents. The motion also sought answers to refused questions from the examination of the representative of Aviva.

The Ontario Superior Court’s decision largely centred on whether Aviva should produce records related to its investigation of the accident and any policy violations by the defendant that led to its decision to deny coverage. Aviva engaged separate counsel for this matter, highlighting the insurer's off-coverage stance due to a material change in risk, which was under scrutiny.

The documents in question included various materials from Aviva's investigation. They were subject to a detailed review to determine their relevance and whether they were protected by litigation or solicitor-client privilege. The plaintiffs argued that Aviva's failure to fully disclose the particulars behind its denial of coverage hindered their ability to pursue damages effectively.

The court directed Aviva to provide a comprehensive list of these documents, which were then reviewed to ascertain if they could be disclosed without prejudicing the defendant’s defence. The judge, adhering to legal precedents, emphasized the responsibility of Aviva's counsel to safeguard the defendant’s interests while accommodating the plaintiffs' right to a fair discovery process.

In resolving the motion, the court granted the plaintiffs' request to produce specific documents deemed not to be shielded by privilege or whose disclosure would not adversely affect the defendant’s defence. The decision allowed the plaintiffs to pursue further discovery based on the newly disclosed information. However, Aviva retained the right to object to the disclosure of documents on grounds of privilege.

The court's decision takes effect after a 20-day review period, allowing time for any objections or appeals from the involved parties.

 

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