In Monster Snacks Inc. v. David, 2023 ONSC 6223, the plaintiff brought a motion to continue the claim and to amend a fresh statement of claim to particularize new allegations against the defendant.
The Court granted an order to continue the claim, but dismissed the plaintiff’s motion to amend a fresh statement of claim. The Court found that the plaintiff’s proposed amended pleading against the defendant was based on a new set of facts that were not pleaded in the original statement of claim. The plaintiff’s new causes of action were also statute barred by the Limitations Act, 2002, SO 2022, c. 23, Sched B. (“Limitations Act”), and the amended pleadings did not comply with the rules of pleading. The Court dismissed the motion and awarded costs in favour of the defendant.
Summary of Facts
Royal Bank of Canada (“RBC”), brought a motion to amend the statement of claim to be named as the plaintiff in place of Monster Snacks Inc., (“Monster”). RBC also sought leave from the Court to file a brand-new statement of claim to particularize allegations against the defendant.
The core dispute of the motion was whether the plaintiff’s proposed amendments should be allowed.
The plaintiff argued that their fresh amended statement of claim was to particularize their cause of action and relevant facts that were already supported by the facts in the current statement of claim.
The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s proposed amended claim contained new causes of action based on newly pleaded facts and those new claims were statute-barred by the Limitations Act, 2002, SO 2022, c. 23, Sched B. (“Limitations Act”). The defendant also argued that the fresh amended statement of claim did not comply with the rules of pleading.
The Court considered whether the plaintiff was seeking to amend their pleading with new claims against the defendant based on a new facts. The Court also considered whether these new claims and facts were statute barred by the Limitations Act.
Rule 26.01 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, RRO 1990, Reg 194 (the “Rules”) provides that on a motion, the Court shall grant leave to amend a pleading unless prejudice would result on the opposing party. Rule 26.01 allows the Court to use its discretion on whether a party can amend a claim. Pleadings that are viewed as prejudicial include claims that are frivolous, vexatious, advanced after the two-year limitation period, or otherwise fail to disclose a reasonable cause of action.
Section 4 of the Limitations Act, states that a proceeding shall not be commenced in respect of a claim after the second anniversary of the day on which the claim was discovered.
The Court considered whether the plaintiff was seeking to plead new claims based on new sets of facts. If the plaintiff’s proposed amendments contained new material facts within the two-year limitation period, the amendments would not be statute barred. The Court found that the plaintiff’s original statement of claim had a limitation expiry date on July 13, 2015, which had long passed prior to the motion date.
Additionally, the plaintiff’s proposed amendments would not be viewed as statute barred if their amended claims arose out of the same facts as pleaded in the original statement of claim. This can be acceptable because an amended claim is not properly viewed as a new cause of action if the original pleading contains all the facts necessary to support the claim. In this scenario, the amendments are only claiming additional forms of relief, or clarifying the relief sought, based on the same facts as originally pleaded.
In this case, the plaintiff added three new causes of action in their proposed amended claim. The original statement of claim, on the other hand, did not expressly state any cause of action. The Court was not convinced that the plaintiff’s proposed amended pleading only particularized causes of action and allegations from facts that were pleaded in the original statement of claim. The Court found that the plaintiff’s proposed amended pleading contained new facts and a new version of events that were well past the limitation period.
In regards to the rules of pleading, the Court considered Rule 25.06(1), which states that every pleading shall contain a concise statement of the material facts on which a party relies for the claim or defence, but not the evidence by which those facts are to be proved. The material facts are necessary to establish the legitimacy of the claim or defence.
The Court found the plaintiff’s proposed amended pleading lacked statements of material facts and instead contained an abundance of evidence and irrelevant statements.
The motion to amend the statement of claim was dismissed.
This decision serves as a cautionary tale for parties that wish to amend their pleadings. When a party seeks to amend a pleading, they must be mindful of the two-year limitation period if they are pleading new claims based on a new set of facts.
If a party’s proposed amendments involve claims arising out of the same material facts pleaded in the original pleading, then the amendments will not be viewed as statute barred under the Limitations Act.
Additionally, the Court provided insightful commentary when drafting pleadings. Every pleading should contain a concise statement of material facts and not statements of evidence that those facts are to be proved. The Court expects to review pleadings that contain brief and clear material facts to support a party’s claim.