Godin v. Star-Key Enterprises Ltd. and Carquest Canada Ltd.
Does the two year limitation period for motor vehicle accidents apply to an action against a car repair shop and parts manufacturer where an accident occurs from a failed car part?
The case arose when the ball-joint on the Plaintiff’s van broke, causing her van to come to a sudden stop. The Plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of the van’s sudden stop. The Plaintiff had not filed a claim until more than three years after the accident. The action was based on contract negligence and on the provisions of the Consumer Product Warranty and Liability Act, S.N.B. 1978, c. C–18.1 and the Sale of Goods Act, R.S.N.B. 1973, c. S-1. Star-Key and Carquest brought a summary judgment motion on the basis that the action was statute-barred because of the two year limitation period that applies to actions “for damages arising out of the operation, care, or control of a motor vehicle”. They relied on a decision of the Court of Appeal called Dupuis v. Moncton (City), 2005 NBCA 47 that seemed to support their position that the limitation period had expired. The Court of Queen’s Bench agreed with Star-Key and Carquest and dismissed the action. We brought an appeal of that decision to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, which reversed the lower court’s decision. The Court of Appeal held that, where the “essence of [the] action is a dispute over an alleged breach of a motor vehicle repair contract”, it will be allowed. However, the Court would not have allowed it had it been a case primarily dealing with a motor vehicle accident that was contrived as a contract or defective products case.