Woodbury v. Woodbury

In Other Practice Topics, Personal Injury and Maritime Law on (Updated )

Précis: The court severed the liability issues from damages issues in a personal injury action.

The plaintiff was injured while being towed on an inner tube behind a boat operated by the first defendant when the inner tube and plaintiff collided with a boat operated by the second defendant. The second defendant brought this motion for an order severing the issues of liability from the other issues in the action arguing that the liability issues were relatively simple in comparison to the damages issues which were complex. The plaintiff opposed the motion arguing that severance would result in additional delay and expense.

Decision: Motion granted.

Held: The power to bifurcate proceedings is narrow and should only be ordered in the interest of justice and in exceptional cases. This is one of those rare and exceptional cases. The liability issue is discreet and straightforward. In contrast, the damages issues are complex as the plaintiff’s injuries are very severe. If the second defendant is successful on the liability issue, there will be a significant savings in time and expense.