This case was heard in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
After the Seligs sued Cook’s Oil Company Limited ("Cook’s") for having caused hydrocarbon contamination on their property, Cook’s brought a third-party claim against Parkhill Construction (1980) Limited ("Parkhill"), which Cook’s had hired to remove underground gasoline storage tanks and install new ones at a service station that it owned. Parkhill then brought a motion asking the Court to dismiss, in a summary judgment, the third-party claim against it, arguing that the facts of the case made it clear that Parkhill was not responsible for the contamination.
After considering the history of contamination in the area and the history of Parkhill’s activities at the service station, the Chambers Judge concluded that Cook’s had not established grounds for a case against Parkhill. As such, the Judge agreed that a summary judgment was appropriate, allowed Parkhill’s motion, and dismissed the third-party claim.
When Cook’s appealed to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, the Court held that the Chambers Judge had not applied the correct test to determine whether a summary judgment was appropriate. On the evidence, the case involved at least one “major issue of fact” that would need to be determined in a trial, and so the Chambers Judge erred in concluding that the matter could be resolved summarily. The Court therefore set aside the summary judgment and the order dismissing the third-party claim.
To read about this case in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, go to Selig v. Cook’s Oil Company Limited et al, 2004 NSSC 163 (CanLII).