Geoffrey Duckworth has over 15 years of litigation experience in Alberta and Ontario, including at two leading national law firms.
Geoffrey’s practice encompasses commercial general liability, professional liability, construction disputes, environmental liability, oil and gas litigation, and bodily injury. Geoffrey’s commercial general liability and professional liability work has an emphasis on litigation involving engineering, architectural design, construction, skilled trades, insurance brokering, and investment advice.
Geoffrey’s experience includes:
- successfully defending a $20 million contamination claim arising from an alleged pipeline leakage. In Paramount Resources Ltd. v. Grey Owl Engineering Ltd., 2022 ABQB 333, the court summarily dismissed the action (appeal and cross appeal are pending). The court held that the 10-year “ultimate” limitation period had expired. It refused the plaintiff’s application under s. 218 of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act to extend the limitation. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the action was an equitable claim for contribution. Essentially, the plaintiff had contended that the applicable limitation was the discoverability limitation running from the Minister’s claim against Paramount under the EPEA, rather than from the earlier alleged acts or omissions by the defendants. The court held that the plaintiff had failed to establish that the defendants could have been liable under the EPEA, which was required for an equitable claim for contribution.
- successfully obtaining the dismissal of a plaintiff’s application for an advance on damages under the Fair Practices Regulation. Geoffrey convinced the court that s. 5.6 of the Fair Practices Regulation could not operate retrospectively, including because the remedy of an advance on damages is substantive and not procedural. Geoffrey also persuaded the court that the plaintiff was not entitled to relief on the merits, as the evidence was insufficient to establish entitlement.
- acting in hundreds of bodily injury proceedings in Alberta and Ontario, including matters involving complex catastrophic injuries, brain injuries, severe orthopedic injuries and chronic pain. Matters dealt with include trampoline park incidents, motor vehicle accidents, trips and falls, slips and falls, diving accidents, medical malpractice, infectious diseases, product liability, municipal liability and accidents in an occupiers’ liability context.
- defending an engineering firm sued by a major provincial utility in negligence and breach of contract. The utility had retained the engineering firm to help identify traffic patterns and engineering construction issues associated with its effort to select a new site for the construction of a new headquarters. An engineering report had not identified the existence of an underground fibre optic network cable at the site ultimately selected. Scope of contract and causation were in issue.
- defending an architectural firm sued in negligence for designs recommending stone panelling. Defences involved the industry standard of care and limitations, given that the panels were over 60 years old.
- defending a shareholder and company in an oppression action. The plaintiff shareholder had placed certificates of lis pendens (CLPs) on various properties comprising the assets of the company. The court was persuaded that the applicant shareholder had no “interest in land” sufficient to maintain the CLPs on the lands.
- acting for a major property developer advancing contractual claims against defaulting purchasers.
- defending registered representatives under the Securities Act resisting a summary dismissal motion. The representatives had sold securities to accredited investors in the exempt market. The securities were limited partnership units in entities whose holdings were concentrated in the US multi-unit residential rental market. Litigation commenced against a number of individuals when the various entities defaulted on their obligations and went into receivership. Defences related to the standard of care, including in the context of non-discretionary accounts, Know Your Client rules and investor risk tolerance. The plaintiff’s summary dismissal application was dismissed.
- defending an insurer opposing a coverage action commenced on a builders’ risk insurance policy. Industrial heaters were left outside and covered by tarps in an unusually rainy season. Rusting occurred. The subject policy covered water damage, but not rust or corrosion. There were duelling expert reports regarding the timing and nature of the occurrence. The issue was whether there was a single, extraordinary insurable event or prolonged exposure due to ill-advised tarping methods.
- acting for an insured in a coverage action on a commercial insurance policy. Insured property burned down but was significantly under-insured in an environment of rapidly rising housing prices in Calgary. The case involved a complicated co-insurance clause, mitigation, and broker standard of care and liability.
Geoffrey has successfully appeared before the Alberta Court of Appeal, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, Alberta Provincial Court and Ontario Superior Court. He has extensive experience in mediation, including judicial dispute resolution.
Geoffrey combines passionate advocacy with a progressive and collaborative approach to conflict resolution. Geoffrey is committed to practical, cost-conscious and proportional litigation in the context of his clients’ case objectives and longer term strategic needs.
Geoffrey is a graduate of the Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Juris Doctor (J.D.) program at Osgoode Hall Law School. Prior to undertaking graduate studies, Geoffrey graduated with merit from the York University B.A. program.
In the course of his graduate legal studies, Geoffrey published a number of works and academic journals and was cited in a leading publication. Holmested and Watson: Ontario Civil Procedure cited his 2005 article on the disclosure of surveillance videos under Ontario’s Rule 30 as “…an excellent, in-depth analysis and critique of the case law on this subject.” At Osgoode Hall, Geoffrey was given the Peter W. Hogg Graduate Award and the Honourable Willard Z. Estey Fellowship. In 2004, Geoffrey and a mooting partner were awarded Upper Year Champions at the Osgoode Hall Lerners’ Cup by a panel of judges that included a Justice of the Ontario Superior Court. Geoffrey was also the sole upper year recipient of the Outstanding Oralist Award for top individual performance.
Geoffrey’s published works and presentations include the following:
- “Alberta Court of Appeal Opines on SEF No. 44 Limitation: the Status Quo and the Unresolved” (2013) 50:3 Alberta Law Review
- “Shaver v. The Co-operators: Alberta Court of Appeal Stays the Course on SEF No. 44 Limitation” (2013) 11:1 On-Risk E-Bulletin @ Gowlings.
- “Following the ‘Back to Basics’ Approach of Progressive Homes: Tort Principles No Substitute for Policy Language” (2011) – Presentation to the Insurance National Practice Group of Gowling Lafleur Henderson.
- “Alberta Court of Appeal Confirms that ‘Net Settlement Proceeds’ of Pierringer Agreements Deductible from Damage Awards” (2010) 98 The Barrister – Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association.
- “The Incredible Shrinking ‘Interest in Land’: An Alberta Perspective” (2010) 8:4 Federated Press: Commercial Litigation
- “Historic Defamation Decision Recognizes New Defence: Responsible Communications on Matters of Public Interest” (2010) 4:1 McCarthy Tétrault Litigation Co-Counsel.
- Co-authored with Mendy Chernos: “Alberta Court of Appeal Extends Judicial Deference to Securities Commission” (2009) 4:2 McCarthy Tétrault Co-Counsel: Business Law Quarterly
- “The Responsibility to Protect Humanity from Genocide and the Coming End of U.N. Charter Absolutism: Moral, Legal and Political Implications” (2008) 45 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 855 [Abstract].
- “The Impact of ‘Charter Values’ and Campbell v. Jones: Is it Now Easier to Establish Qualified Privilege against Defamation?” (2006) 29 Dalhousie Law Journal
- “Has ‘Trial by Unsurprise’ Gone Too Far? The Case for Delayed Disclosure of Surveillance Videos” (2005) 31:2 Manitoba Law Journal This work was cited under Rule 30 in Garry Watson, Holmested and Watson: Ontario Civil Procedure (Toronto: Carswell, 1984-looseleaf).
Geoffrey is a member of the Law Society of Alberta and the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association.