Christopher M. Rusnak
Partner

DIRECT: 604 895 2838
crusnak@harpergrey.com

ASSISTANT: Lori Reisig
lreisig@harpergrey.com

Areas of Practice

Biography

During his practice, Chris Rusnak has developed close working relationships with counsel throughout Canada and has earned a strong reputation as a team player.

The focus of his work is acting in multi-party cases in the areas of engineering, environmental, product liability and construction litigation.  He is particularly adept at dealing with technically challenging cases involving issues such as building envelope design failure, hydrocarbon migration in soils, large scale landslides and covalent bond failure analysis.  He also has experience defending product liability claims on behalf of multinational manufacturers of consumer products in a number of Canadian jurisdictions. Chris’ Bachelor Degree in Chemical Engineering informs his ability to address extensive scientific evidence and complex legal issues.  In fact his peers, through Benchmark Canada, have lauded, “Chris approaches everything like an engineer, everything is done very thoroughly.”

In addition to appearing in all levels of court in British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick, Chris has appeared at the Supreme Court of Canada, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, the Yukon Supreme Court and the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court.  Chris also has extensive experience with mediation.

In 2013 Chris was recognized as one of Canada’s leading practitioners in the area of insurance law by the peer-review publication The Best Lawyers in Canada.  Chris was also recognized in 2013 as “bright counsel” and a Litigation Star in Canada in the area of product liability by the peer-review publication Benchmark Canada: The Definitive Guide to Canada’s Leading Litigation Firms & Attorneys.

Chris is Assistant Chair of Harper Grey’s Construction & Engineering Law Practice Group and has served on the firm’s executive committee.

Education

  • University of Victoria, LL.B., 1992
  • Queen's University, B.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering (Hons.), 1989

Bar Admissions

  • Yukon Territory, 2001
  • British Columbia, 1994

Leadership

  • Member, Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Branch - Construction Law subsection
  • Past Member, British Columbia Construction Roundtable
  • Presenter at continuing education seminars held by architects, engineers and industry organizations regarding professional liability and environmental risk management issues
  • Lecturer, Faculty of Engineering, University of British Columbia
  • Lecturer, Continuing Legal Education Society of BC courses and Professional Legal Training (Bar Admission) course

Recognition

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers® in Canada 2015, 2016 and 2017 as a leading lawyer in the areas of Insurance Law and Construction Law
  • Recognized as a “Local Litigation Star” in British Columbia by Benchmark Canada in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Recognized as a “Future Star” in British Columbia by Benchmark Canada in 2012

2017 Chambers Canada Commentary: Christopher Rusnak is an emerging presence in the BC litigation area. He is well regarded for his abilities in significant class action disputes, with additional expertise in construction and product liability litigation. Sources say: “He is a very smart and capable guy.” 

Client Work

 Construction Litigation

  • Acting for a leading architectural firm in the defence of allegations of professional negligence in the design of a large high-rise condominium. The case involved more than 30 named defendants, a large volume of documents and damages in excess of $12 million were claimed.
  • Acting for a large, national geotechnical engineering firm in a number of actions arising from two large landslides. In total, more than 20 separate actions were commenced. In addition to the legal proceedings, Chris was involved in extensive negotiations with the provincial and municipal governments regarding issues of ongoing public safety. As lead counsel, Mr. Rusnak was responsible for case strategy, file management, conduct of examinations for discovery, guidance to paralegals and junior lawyers, instruction of experts and ultimately the case strategy that led to successful resolution on behalf of his client.
  • Representing a joint venture of three international engineering firms who were sued over their involvement in large-scale expansion of a waste water treatment plant. The case related to alleged design and construction defects associated with the projects waste water digesters. There were thousands of documents, many days of discovery and extensive expert evidence of a technical nature.
  • Counsel in over 100 cases relating to leaking condominiums and other buildings. These claims were generally large, complex multi-party proceedings. Damages claims range from $200,000 to $30 million, and there were often 20 or more parties involved in the claims.

Environmental Law

  • Co-counsel on behalf of a port authority  in proceedings relating to historic hydrocarbon contamination of a large industrial site. Approximately 20 parties were involved in six concurrent actions seeking more than $35 million in clean-up costs. Document disclosure was extensive and the expert evidence highly technical. The matter proceeded to trial but was resolved by out-of-court settlement before the trial was completed.

Health Law

  • Counsel in a series of matters involving claims by dozens of plaintiffs who alleged damages suffered due to sexual assaults allegedly committed while they were students of a former school teacher criminally convicted of sexual assault offences and designated a dangerous offender. Chris acted as counsel on behalf of a number of physicians named as defendants in the proceedings. The cases received significant media attention and, given its sensitive subject matter needed a carefully planned litigation strategy. In his role as lead counsel, Chris worked collaboratively with other counsel involved in the case to bring it to a successful resolution.
  • Representing numerous physicians in a variety of disputes, including the defence of a paediatric cardiac surgeon  in the British Columbia Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. The case involved allegations of professional negligence arising from a surgical procedure on a child to repair a condition known as coarctation of the aorta.

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