Rutt v. Meade, 2022 NSSC 100

On January 6th 2022, in Kentville, Nova Scotia, a motion was brought before the court by the Third Parties Dara Ramirez and Valley United Soccer club in order to strike the third party claim filed against them by the Defendant Adrian Jay Meade and their employer Synergy Agri Inc.

The Plaintiff Emily Dawn Rutt had been injured when the car she was in collided with a truck driven by Mr. Meade. She was 15 years old when the accident occurred. She filed a claim against the Defendants for damages for the injuries she suffered which included concussion symptoms.

About three weeks after the car accident, the Plaintiff played in a national soccer tournament for her club Valley United. Ms. Ramirez was her coach.

A third-party claim was filed by the Defendants Mr. Meade and Synergy alleging that Ms. Ramirez and the Valley United soccer club had been negligent in pressuring and/or allowing Ms. Rutt to play in the soccer tournament when she still had ongoing concussion symptoms and from the car accident. The Defendants claimed that Ms. Ramirez and Valley United were concurrent tortfeasors who would have been liable had they been sued for the “same damage” suffered by Ms. Rutt. Further, they claimed that they have a right for contribution from Ms. Ramirez and Valley United under the Tortfeasers Act for any damages that they might have to pay Ms. Rutt for her ongoing concussion symptoms.

Ms. Ramirez and Valley United argued that they were not concurrent tortfeasors because the accident and the soccer tournament were two distinct events that had happened at different times. The Third Parties argued that Mr. Meade and Synergy were not at risk of being held responsible for any damages that had been caused to Ms. Rutt due to playing in the soccer tournament.

In the decision of Justice Gatchalian, she found that the question of whether the concussion symptoms were divisible, or indivisible, were a question of fact. Justice Gatchalian could not determine at the motion whether the concussion symptoms suffered by the Plaintiff after the soccer tournament were capable of division. This would be up to a trial judge to decide. If a trial judge were to find that the Defendants and the Third Parties caused separate damage, they would not be concurrent tortfeasers, and the third-party claim would fail. If the trial judge determined that the damage was indivisible, there is a risk that the Defendants would have to fully compensate the Plaintiff for post-soccer tournament concussion symptoms. Therefore, the motion of Ms. Ramirez and Valley United to strike the third-party claim was dismissed.

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