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Retail Case Update: Slip and Fall in the Mall – Dismissal for Inexcusable Delay

April 23, 2024

In the recent decision of Ramirez Carabantes v. Ivanhoe Cambridge, 2024 BCSC 520 (here), the BC Supreme Court dismissed a case in favor of a retailer due to inordinate and inexcusable prosecution delays and continuous failure to comply with court orders. Building on recent appellate authority, this underscores the importance of prosecuting civil actions in a timely way and that there can be significant consequences for inordinate and inexcusable delays.

In this case, the plaintiff slipped and fell in a mall in 2013 although litigation was not commenced until 2015. Once initiated, the lawsuit progressed in what the court deemed a leisurely fashion. Through the years, the plaintiff failed to appear for hearings and repeatedly failed to comply with court orders for document disclosure.

In this case, the delay in prosecuting the claim was extensive. The court identified significant prejudice against the defendant, including the death of a critical witness and the loss of crucial documents, significantly hindering the defence’s ability to challenge the claims effectively. Exacerbating the fact of the delay is that it occurred largely while the plaintiff was in breach of two court orders and could not offer any reasonable explanation for his delay and non-compliance.

The court went through the test for dismissal of an action for want of prosecution as recently revisited and revised by our Court of Appeal in Giacomini v. The Owners, Strata Plan EPS 3173, 2023 BCCA 473 (here). In its concluding remarks, the court held there was inordinate and inexcusable delay in prosecuting this action. That, for the most part, occurred while the plaintiff was in breach of two court orders. This resulted in clear prejudice to the defendant.

The court emphasized the need for timely justice and adherence to procedural standards, emphasizing the consequences of delay tactics in legal processes. The court stressed that such delay brings the administration of justice into disrepute and is contrary to the very object of the B.C. Civil Rules to “secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every proceeding on its merits”. 

Expertise

Important Notice: The information contained in this Article is intended for general information purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. It is not intended as legal advice from Harper Grey LLP or the individual author(s), nor intended as a substitute for legal advice on any specific subject matter. Detailed legal counsel should be sought prior to undertaking any legal matter. The information contained in this Article is current to the last update and may change. Last Update: April 23, 2024.

©Harper Grey LLP 2024

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