Court of Appeal of Quebec

Giesbrecht c. Les Héritiers de Feu Michel Nadeau & al

March 13, 2017


Levesque, Gagnon C., Mainville

Appeal from a declaratory judgment of the Superior Court. Dismissed.

In the fall of 2012, Jean Fournier hired the services of Nadeau and Nadeau Air Service Inc. to bring back to Quebec an aircraft that he had purchased and that was in Alberta. During the trip, the aircraft crashed, causing, among other things, the death of Yannick Fournier. The appellants, who are all related to Yannick Fournier and are principally domiciled in Quebec (his in-laws are domiciled in British Columbia), brought an action against the respondents alleging that the accident was due to the errors of Nadeau, and claiming damages from the pilot’s heirs and his employer. The parties presented a joint application on a question of law, to wit, determining the law applicable to the file to assess the damages suffered by the appellants.

Article 3126 of the Civil Code of Québec (C.C.Q.), states the lex loci delicti rule and sets out two exceptions: (1) if the injury appeared in another State, and the author should have foreseen that the injury would manifest itself there, and (2) where the author and the victim have their residences in the same State. These two exceptions do not apply here. With respect to the first, the claim of Yannick Fournier’s minor children contemplates injury relating to the suffering and pain their father experienced in the hours after the crash or is attributable to the apprehension of dying, which injuries clearly appeared in Ontario, and it is hardly relevant that the other injuries suffered indirectly by the appellants appeared in Quebec or British Columbia. With respect to the second exception, some of the appellants do not have a domicile or residence in Quebec. The laws of Ontario would therefore apply. The only basis for the in-laws’ claim, however, is under Quebec law, not Ontario law, which allows only the victim’s spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters to claim the pecuniary loss arising from the death of the victim from a third party. It would therefore be incongruous to find that Ontario law applies to the dispute on the ground that some of the appellants are domiciled in British Columbia when the claim of these very appellants would be inadmissible under Ontario law. This is an extraordinary and truly exceptional case justifying the application of article 3082 C.C.Q. to set aside Ontario law and instead apply Quebec law to the dispute as a whole.

 *Summary by SOQUIJ
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