Burgess v. Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

Year opened: 2016
Status: Decision pending
Jurisdiction: Canada
Principle law(s):
Mitigation/adaptation: Adaptation


Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources manages the water levels in several lakes whose surfaces would otherwise rise higher and fall lower with snow melt and precipitation. Historically, the area around the lakes has not seen flooding, but, since 2010, three different floods have damaged and destroyed private property there. In September 2016, property owners filed a class action suit seeking C$900 million in damages from the Ministry for the most recent flood events. Class members include “all [legal persons] that owned real property and or had an ownership interest in real property situated on the shoreline of the Muskoka Lakes who suffered damages as a result of high water levels, flooding, and/or floating ice in March or April 2016.” The plaintiffs allege that the Ministry had a duty to avert foreseeable flooding, knew that the lakes had reached dangerously high levels early in 2016, yet negligently allowed the lakes to flood, which in turn destroyed adjacent structures.

Core objective(s): Recover damages for failure to avert flooding
Side A: Burgess (Individual, class)
Side B: Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (Government)
  • Undecided (Ontario Superior Court of Justice)

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