Carmichael v. GlaxoSmithKline Inc., 2020 ONCA 447

The Court of Appeal was asked to interpret s.7(1)(a) of the Limitations Act, 2002, which provides that a two-year limitation period does not run during any time in which the person with the claim is incapable of commencing a proceeding in respect of the claim because of his or her physical, mental or psychological condition. The plaintiff had strangled his child to death while suffering from mental illness and psychotic delusions. He was taking an anti-depressant drug manufactured by the defendant at the time. Almost seven years after the incident, he sued the manufacturer for damages, alleging that the drug had caused or contributed to his psychosis. The defendant brought an unsuccessful motion for summary judgment, arguing that the claim was statute-barred by the Limitations Act, 2002. The motion judge held that the limitation period did not begin to run until the plaintiff received an absolute discharge in the context of the criminal matter, which was less than two years before the civil claim against the manufacturer was issued. On appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the plaintiff was able to appreciate the nature of the potential litigation proceedings, and that the Limitations Act barred his action. The Court of Appeal was compelled by the fact that the plaintiff had instructed numerous criminal and family lawyers in the years before his absolute discharge, and had consulted others regarding the possibiltiy of suing the manufacturer. The appeal was allowed and the underlying action was summarily dismissed.