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Supreme Court of Canada Addresses Role of Parallel Proceedings in Stay Applications

Canada’s highest court has delivered its judgment in Teck Cominco Metals Ltd. v. Lloyd’s Underwriters (available here).  The decision is quite brief and upholds the decision of both courts below, leaving some to wonder why leave to appeal was granted.

Teck has mining and smelting operations in British Columbia.  In 2004 it was sued in Washington State for environmental property damage caused by the discharge of waste material into the Columbia River, which flows from Teck’s Canadian operations into the United States.  Teck notified its insurers, looking to them to defend the claim, but they refused.

Teck therefore sued the insurers in Washington State to establish its entitlement under the insurance policies.  The insurers sued Teck in British Columbia to establish their lack of responsibility under the same policies.  So the issue became where the coverage issue would be resolved.