JB Laverdure inc v. Mediterranean Shipping Company, 2019 QCCQ 6232 (2019-10-01)
Facts: This matter dealt with objections to requests made at discovery and the sufficiency of documents received subsequent to discovery. The plaintiff contracted with the defendant shipper for the transport of limes from Brazil to Montreal. When the shipments arrived the limes were found in a damaged condition, forcing the plaintiff to sell at a loss of about $49,000.00 CAD. At the examination of the defendant representative, counsel for the defendant objected to two requests made by counsel for plaintiff. Those requests were: i) provide the average time for a vessel to sail from Brazil to Montreal; ii) provide the plaintiff with a copy of any correspondence the defendant representative exchanged with the people from the plaintiff business regarding the TTNUA361348 container. The Court was also asked to rule on the sufficiency of the documents produced, which were: i) documents submitted to the port for lading; ii) the loading schedule of the ship transporting the limes; iii) temperature readings taken at the port of embarkation; iv) copies of the confirmation of sale, purchase of sale orders of the discounted lime sales; v) documents relating to whether the draft bill of lading was sent for approval by the defendant; and vi) evidence that the shipper and consignee released the original bills of lading.
Decision: Objections maintained; produced documents sufficient.
Held: The Court examined the objections and produced documents and made individual rulings on each of them. The Court found the objection relating to average vessel sailing time was well founded as a requested document must exist at the time the request is made, and the party requesting the document must first establish that the document exists and then identify it. There was no evidence the defendant had such a document in its possession. On the second objection, the Court upheld the objection as without establishing the document exists/is identified any request for production would be equivalent to a blind search. In respect of the produced documents, the Court found the defendant had produced all documents in its possession and control relating to the requests, and that if other documents existed, they were in the possession of third parties, could not be produced by the defendant, or outside the responsibility of the defendant and therefore not in its possession or control.