Update on Wiles v. Sun Life – Limitation Periods and Relief from Forfeiture – Ontario Court of Appeal Upholds Summary Dismissal of Claim

Update on Wiles v. Sun Life – Limitation Periods and Relief from Forfeiture – Ontario Court of Appeal Upholds Summary Dismissal of Claim

Several months ago, I wrote a blog regarding this case where I suggested that perhaps the summary judgment decision would be reviewed by the Ontario Court of Appeal. The OCA released their decision on September 19, 2018, upholding the dismissal granted by Justice Taylor.

Taylor, J. had dismissed the lawsuit against both Sun Life and the employer on the basis that the one-year limitation period in Sun Life’s LTD policy had been missed, and on the basis that Ms. Wiles failure to submit a timely LTD application did not provide the necessary criteria for granting relief from forfeiture.

The necessary factors required for the Court to grant relief from forfeiture are as follows, as noted in paragraph 40 of the decision of Taylor, J:

“[40] In Saskatchewan River Bungalows Ltd. v. Maritime Life Assurance Co., 1994 CanLII 100 (SCC), [1994] 2 S.C.R. 490 at paragraph 32, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the power to relieve against forfeiture is entirely discretionary and is based on the consideration of three factors which are: a) the conduct of the applicant; b) the gravity of the breach; and, c) the disparity between the value of the property forfeited and the damage caused by the breach.” For the Court’s analysis with respect to why these factors were not satisfied, a careful reading of the decision is required.

Links to both the initial decision of Justice Taylor and the decision of the OCA can be found here:

I am also including a link to the Blog I posted in April regarding Justice Taylor’s decision:

https://www.sharelawyers.com/blog/2018/04/long-term-disability-deadlines-limitation-periods-wiles-v-sun-life-2018-onsc-1090.html

The OCA, in very short reasons, upheld Justice Taylor’s dismissal of the lawsuit primarily on the grounds that they did not wish to interfere with Taylor, J’s findings of fact and the OCA owed deference to Justice Taylor’s finding, as they could see no evidence that his ruling was in any way tainted by his erroneous conclusions with respect to the limitation period.   The OCA acknowledged that the one-year limitation period found in Sun Life’s policy was not the applicable limitation period. While the OCA did not cite their decision in Kassburg v. Sun Life.

(https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onca/doc/2014/2014onca922/2014onca922.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQAUa2Fzc2J1cmcgdi4gc3VuIGxpZmUAAAAAAQ&resultIndex=2)

The short reasons note that both counsels for Ms. Wiles and for Sun Life conceded that the applicable limitation period was two-years under the Limitations Act (Ontario) not the one-year noted in Sun Life’s policy.

The case, once again, reiterates the need to pay close attention to the requirements to submit a claim for disability benefits in a timely manner and to make every effort to comply with all of the necessary steps so as to avoid having your claim dismissed due to a technical requirement.

Each case is determined on its’ own facts and there is a significant degree of nuance involved in assessing whether a claim is barred due to non-compliance or “imperfect” compliance, but it is better to proceed as soon as possible with your claim so that it can be assessed on its’ merits rather than stopped due to technical requirements.

 

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