Former SaskPower worker granted permission to amend wrongful dismissal claim, including addition of moral damages

Powerline workers on the job. Photo: Kozmoat98/Getty Images/Canva

A former worker at SaskPower has been partially granted permission to amend her wrongful dismissal action after six years of legal proceedings, including new claims for moral damages and solicitor-client costs.

The worker, JM, also wants to detail further the alleged bad faith conduct of SaskPower.

SaskPower strongly opposed these amendments, arguing that they were inappropriate and introduced too late in the legal process. The corporation contended that such changes would not only expand the scope of the lawsuit but also lead to undue prejudice against them.

The court’s decision to permit some of JM’s proposed amendments was influenced by several key legal considerations. Notably, the amendments were found to be non-prejudicial to SaskPower and did not unnecessarily broaden the issues in the case. However, some of the proposed changes were rejected as they improperly detailed evidence rather than focusing on the essential facts of the claim.

Under Rule 3-72 of the rules for the Court of King’s Bench for Saskatchewan, amendments are generally permitted to clarify the real questions at issue in a lawsuit. This rule aligns with past judgments, which have emphasized the court’s tendency to favour amendments that facilitate the clear determination of a case’s core controversies, provided they do not cause significant non-compensable prejudice to the opposing party.

In evaluating the potential prejudice of the amendments, the court considered whether they introduced unexpected new issues or could lead to further delays. The judge found that JM’s amendments, particularly those regarding moral damages and solicitor-client costs, had been foreshadowed in previous filings and thus did not present new, unforeseen issues for SaskPower.

The decision also addressed whether the amendments were overly laden with opinion, argument, or evidence. It was determined that while some of the amendments did veer into these areas, many were acceptable in providing SaskPower fair notice of the claims against it. The court meticulously scrutinized each proposed amendment, allowing those that were deemed essential to the case while striking down others that were seen as unnecessarily detailed or evidentiary.

Lastly, the court considered whether the amendments sought to relitigate issues already decided. It concluded that the proposed changes did not fall into this category, thereby allowing them to be included in the amended claim.

This ruling sets the stage for the next phase of the lawsuit, with JM required to file her amended claim within eight days, and SaskPower granted an additional 30 days to respond with an amended defense, should it choose to do so.

Because of the divided success of the ruling, the court did not award costs to either party.

For more information, see May v SaskPower, 2024 SKKB 4 (CanLII).

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