Chris is a Partner with Harper Grey and the focus of his work is acting in multi-party cases in the areas of engineering, environmental, product liability and construction litigation. During his practice, Chris has developed close working relationships with counsel throughout Canada and has earned a strong reputation as a team player.
Chris 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.
Chris is Assistant Chair of Harper Grey’s Construction & Engineering Law Practice Group and has served on the firm’s executive committee.
Recognized as a “Leader in His Field” in the area of General Commercial Litigation (British Columbia) by Chambers Canada®, 2017 - 2018
Recognized as a "Leading Lawyer" in the areas of Insurance Law and Construction Law by Best Lawyers® in Canada, 2015 - 2017
Recognized as a “Local Litigation Star” in British Columbia in the areas of Construction, Environmental and Product Liability by Benchmark Canada®, 2013 - 2017
Recognized as a “Future Star” in British Columbia by Benchmark Canada®, 2012
- Counsel to British American Tobacco companies based in the United Kingdom in respect of claims advanced against them by each of the ten provincial governments. The governments are seeking recovery of billions of dollars health care costs expended on the treatment of tobacco related disease. The claims are unprecedented in scope as the enabling legislation renders inapplicable provisions of provincial limitation acts, allowing claims to be advanced that date back to the 1950s.
- Counsel to an engineering firm in respect of claims arising from the failure of the Mount Polley Mine tailings storage facility. The failure has been described as the largest environmental disaster in the history of Canada. The claim seeks damages related to the environmental clean-up .
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- University of Victoria, LL.B., 1992
- Queen’s University, B.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering (Hons.), 1989
- Yukon Territory, 2001
- British Columbia, 1994
- Seminar Leader, Inns of Court, Counsel’s Role in Document Discovery
- Assistant Chair, Harper Grey Construction & Engineering Law Group
- Past Chair, Harper Grey Construction & Engineering Law Group
- 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
- Member, The Law Society of British Columbia
- Member, Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch Subsections:
- Construction Law
- Past Member, British Columbia Construction Roundtable