Bonter v. Estate of Nathan Laird et al., 2019 ONSC 2604

The plaintiff was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. The owner of the vehicle that collided with the plaintiff had given the defendant driver keys to her vehicle in order for him to retrieve his cigarettes from it. Instead of doing so, the defendant driver took the car and drove away. The defendant owner took the position that the defendant driver was in possession of her vehicle without her consent. The plaintiff’s insurer (named as a defendant in the action pursuant to the uninsured/underinsured provisions of the plaintiff’s auto policy) brought a motion for summary judgment, seeking a determination that the defendant driver was in possession of the defendant vehicle with the owner’s consent and therefore the owner was liable for loss or damage caused by the defendant driver’s use of the vehicle. Justice Hurley dismissed the motion, finding that giving someone the keys to one’s car does not constitute giving possession of the car to them. To conclude otherwise would lead to results appearing at odds with a sensible interpretation of the Highway Traffic Act.

Ledger v. Sabourin et al., 2019 ONSC 1893

The plaintiff sustained personal injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident. At the time of the accident, the defendant driver was not licensed to drive. The sole issue before the court at the commencement of trial was whether the defendant driver possessed the defendant owner’s vehicle with consent at the time of the accident. The defendant owner and defendant driver lived together for 20 years, with the defendant driver not possessing a driver’s licence at any time during that period. The defendant owner did not hide her keys from the defendant driver and admitted that she had knowledge of prior incidents of the defendant driver driving her vehicles. Justice Platana held that the defendant owner did not meet the onus of establishing on a balance of probabilities that her vehicle was in the defendant driver’s possession without her consent. The defendant driver was justified in deeming that he had the defendant owner’s implied consent to possess the vehicle at the time of the accident.