ELIZABETH BOWKER is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer, with a diverse and complex practice. Elizabeth prioritizes listening to her clients, understanding their needs and point of view and telling their stories in a persuasive and compelling way. She has a measured and calm approach to problems, seeking mediated settlements when possible, but is just as comfortable in a courtroom advocating for her clients at trial and all the way up through levels of appeal.
She has argued before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Courts of Appeal in both Ontario and New Brunswick, Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice and Divisional Court, and before multiple administrative tribunals. She represents clients involved in wide-ranging issues including class actions, professional liability, products liability, medical malpractice, municipal liability, employment practices and insurance coverage.
Elizabeth is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars for professional organizations and insurance companies, and she currently organizes the firm’s continuing professional development programs. She is a member of the Advocates’ Society and the Ontario Bar Association. Prior to articling, she was a legal intern with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.
- Successfully argued for defendant food manufacturer at the Supreme Court of Canada, in a certified class action regarding whether a food manufacturer owed a duty of care to restaurant franchisees who suffered economic losses as a result of a recall of meat products contaminated with listeria. 1688782 Ontario Inc. v. Maple Leaf Foods , 2020 SCC 35, on appeal from Ontario Court of Appeal decision of 2018 ONCA 407.
- Argued appeal on behalf of defendant travel agency regarding whether Ontario was the appropriate jurisdiction for an action arising out of a motor scooter accident in Thailand. Vahle v. Global Work & Travel Co. Inc., 2020 ONCA 224, on appeal from 2019 ONSC 3624.
- Successfully represented insurance company on appeal regarding whether sexual abuse exclusion in policy of insurance precluded coverage for allegation of negligent supervision of employee at a martial arts academy. Southside Muay Thai Academy Corp. v. Aviva Insurance Company of Canada, 2020 ONCA 385, on appeal from 2019 ONSC 6086.
- Successfully argued appeal and motion to dismiss multiple actions for failing to disclose a reasonable cause of action against various children’s aid societies, on grounds that children’s aid societies owe no duty of care to parents of children in care. B. v. Ontario (Child and Youth Services), 2020 ONCA 198, on appeal from 2019 ONSC 2734.
- Represented defendant property manager on appeal of motion to dismiss the action as a nullity on the basis that the condominium corporation failed to comply with the notice requirements of Condominium Act prior to the commencement of action. York Region Standard Condominium Corporation No. 1206 v. 520 Steeles Developments Inc., 2020 ONCA 63 on appeal from 2019 ONSC 2991.
- Successfully argued on behalf of respondent insurance companies on the interpretation of “single claim” in the policy of insurance, at New Brunswick Court of Appeal and Court of Queen’s Bench. Arch Insurance Canada Ltd. v. Financial and Consumer Services Commission and Encon Group Inc. et al.,2016 NBCA 53 (CanLII), on appeal from 2015 NBQB 211.
- Represented law firm in application and appeal regarding whether the underlying action against the law firm constituted two separate claims under the errors and omissions policy of insurance, rather than a “single claim”. Simpson Wigle Law LLP v. Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company, 2014 ONCA 492.
- Successfully argued on behalf of defendant insurer at appeal and motion seeking the institution of the appraisal process for a property damage claim. 56 King Inc. v. Aviva Canada, 2017 ONCA 408.
- Represented hospital arguing that the jury’s verdicts were unreasonable as there was insufficient evidence to establish that any established negligence on their part caused the infant’s birth injuries. Goodwin v. Olupona,2013 ONCA 259
- Represented insurance company in appeal regarding the ranking of policies required to respond to losses arising from a fire in a Toronto apartment building. Aviva Insurance Company of Canada v. Lombard General Insurance Company of Canada, 2013 ONCA 416.
- Argued appeal on behalf of defendant boarding school in a class action alleging abuse and neglect of students. The issue on appeal was whether the school could bring a third party claim against the parents of the students for contribution and indemnity for any harms suffered by the students, given that the plaintiffs intended to limit their claim to the several liability of the school. Johnson v. The Sheila Morrison Schools, 2012 ONSC 1322 (Div. Ct.).
- Argued on behalf of defendant landlord on appeal of summary judgment motion. Issue was whether limitation period had expired for lessee to sue landlord for interference with the Plaintiff’s business. 948298 Ontario Inc. v SREIT (Milton Mall) Ltd., 2013 ONCA 17, on appeal from 2012 ONSC 5537 SCJ.
- Successfully represented insurer in appeal regarding whether the territorial limitation contained in an automobile insurance policy applies to restrict coverage provided in an underinsured motorist endorsement. Pilot Insurance Co. v. Sutherland (2007), 86 O.R. (3d) 789 (O.N.C.A.).
- Represented plaintiff law firm on appeal seeking a declaration that the insurer had a duty to defend the law firm under a professional liability insurance policy and that claims arising out of the provision of investment advice and/or services were as a direct consequence of the performance of “professional services”. Cassells Brock & Blackwell v LawPro, 2007 ONCA 122.
- Represented plaintiffs in appeal of a trial judge award in personal injury action, resulting in affirmation of trial judge’s award of quantum of damages and costs from motor vehicle accident trial. Walker v. Ritchie, 2005 CanLII 13776 (ON CA).
- Co-counsel on 2-month trial, resulting in successful defence of municipality where plaintiff alleged bias and bad faith in the procurement process for the construction of an addition to City Hall. Inzola Group Limited v. City of Brampton, 2019 ONSC 7632.
- Successfully defended not-for-profit long-term care centre at trial (lead counsel). Former employee claimed breach of contract, as well as fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation in the pre-employment context. Novak v. St. Demetrius (Ukrainian Catholic) Development Corporation, 2017 ONSC 3503.
- Successfully represented defendant insurance broker at trial (lead counsel) where plaintiff homeowner alleged professional liability in arranging vacancy coverage for burned home. Rosetanni v. Economical Insurance Group, 2015 ONSC 4024.
- Successfully represented defendant insurance broker at trial (lead counsel) where the issue was whether the insurance broker had been negligent in failing to recommend that the Plaintiff purchase optional income replacement benefits. Godina v. Tripemco Burlington Insurance, 2013 ONSC 1787.
- Successfully represented defendant insurer at trial with respect to whether the legal defence costs endorsement of a policy was triggered by the insured being summoned to appear in front of a special inquest. Johnson v. Lombard Canada Limited,  100 OR (3d) 479 (Sm. Cl. Ct.).
- Successfully represented defendant municipality regarding whether it had just cause to terminate the employee Director of Labour Relations for violations of workplace harassment policies. Menagh v. Hamilton (City), 2005 CanLII 36268 (ON SC).
Class Actions and Mass Torts
- Represents forensic mental health hospital in proposed class action arising out of the use of seclusion and restraint of patients.
- Represents all Ontario children’s aid societies in proposed class action alleging privacy torts as a result of birth alerts regarding pregnant individuals.
- Represents long-term care homes in various proposed class actions and mass torts, including actions arising out of Covid-19 pandemic and allegations of inadequate care in homes.
- Represents company that provides advanced airborne training to the world’s leading air forces, in certified class action alleging oppression under the Canada Business Corporations Act. Certification decision: Campbell v. Clairvest Group Inc. et al., 2021 ONSC 2943.
- Represented professional ballet school in certified class action alleging historical sexual abuse of students and breach of privacy by former teacher. Settlement approved: Doucet v. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, 2022 ONSC 976.
- Represented real estate appraisers in various proposed class actions and mass tort actions arising out of syndicated mortgages, where the investors allege that the appraisers provided negligent valuations of real property. See, for example, Foremost Financial Corp. v. Cushman & Wakefield Ltd. 2022 ONSC 1622 where obtained judgment dismissing the action on the basis that appraiser owed no duty of care to syndicated investors who were not authorized to rely on appraisal report.
- Represents building owners and landlords in multiple actions, including class actions by tenants / unit owners, arising out of fires, hydro vault explosions, and electrical issues.
- Represented private school in certified class action regarding allegations by teachers that they were entitled to certain minimums (overtime pay, minimum wage, vacation pay, and public holiday and premium pay) owed to employees under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Certification and settlement approval decision: Walmsley v. 2016169 Ontario Inc., 2020 ONSC 1416.
- Represented defendant food manufacturer in two certified national class actions arising out of contamination of ready-to-eat meats with listeria. One class action was brought on behalf of those who suffered illness and death as a result of consuming the meats; settlement of the “largest consumer food contamination class proceeding in Canadian history” was approved by the court within 4 months of the outbreak Bilodeau v. Maple Leaf Foods Inc., 2009 CanLII 10392 (ON SC).
- The second certified class action sought economic losses alleged by restaurant franchisees as a result of the recall; successfully argued at the Supreme Court of Canada that action should be dismissed based on no duty of care. 1688782 Ontario Inc. v. Maple Leaf Foods Inc., 2020 SCC 35, on appeal from Ontario Court of Appeal decision of 2018 ONCA 407.
- Represented boarding school in a class action by former students alleging abuse and neglect of students. Settlement approved by court. Johnson v The Sheila Morrison Schools, 2013 ONSC 1528.
- Represented public health authority in class action alleging contamination of local swimming pool with Giardiasis. Settlement approved by court. Gracey v. 1093823 Ontario Ltd., 2018 ONSC 4309.
Other Representative Work
- Represents various artistic, sports, and religious institutions facing allegations of sexual abuse and harassment.
- Represents multiple Children’s Aid Societies in litigation alleging that CAS failed to conduct appropriate investigation into alleged abuse of children. This includes litigation arising out of the Motherisk program, run by the Hospital for Sick Children, which provided hair testing for drugs and alcohol; Children’s Aid Societies are alleged to have improperly relied on the results of that testing.
- Provides coverage and monitoring counsel advice to insurers on class actions, including securities, employment practices, and environmental spills class actions.
- Represents insurers being sued for coverage under their policies, including for bad faith. Most recently, successfully represented insurers in coverage application regarding the interplay between “Other Insurance” and “Professional Incident” clauses. Berkley Insurance v Aviva Insurance et al., 2021 ONSC 6596.
- Represents insurance brokers in various actions in which it is alleged that brokers failed to warn or provide adequate coverage to their clients regarding coverage for pandemic business interruption arising out of Covid-19.
- Represents manufacturers of medical mesh in various actions alleging negligent manufacture, design and marketing of mesh led to personal injuries.
- Represents paralegals in actions alleging professional incompetence in the provision of paralegal services.
- Represents and provides general advice to social workers, including involving civil litigation and complaints to the College.
- Represents and provides general advice to various healthcare professionals (i.e. pharmacists, denturists, physiotherapists, psychotherapists) including involving civil litigation and complains to their respective governing Colleges.
- Represented property manager in a motion regarding waiver of solicitor-client privilege. York Region Standard Condominium Corporation No. 1206 v. 360 Community Management et al., 2018 ONSC 2859.
- Successfully represented insurer and claims examiners in motion for summary judgment to dismiss all allegations of conspiracy. Future Health Inc. v. General Accident Assurance, 2016 ONSC 4834.
- Successfully represented defendant mediator in action alleging mediator was negligent in carrying out his duties. The Humane Society of Canada v. Webber, 2014 ONSC 930 (Div. Ct.)
- Successfully represented defendant arbitrator in Plaintiff’s motion to revisit an earlier order of another deputy judge which had dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim. Alexander v. Neville, 2014 CanLII 18365 (ON SCSM).
- Successfully represented insurer in a motion for summary judgment involving the interpretation of insurance coverage under a comprehensive homeowners policy: whether the homeowners were entitled to the benefit of the Guaranteed Replacement Costs coverage despite the fact that they did not rebuild their fire damaged home. Willoughby v. Pilot Insurance Company, 2014 ONSC 95 (CanLII)
- Successfully resisted motion to amend claim to add new Defendants following expiration of limitation period. 1504700 Ontario Inc. v. Frijio, 2011 ONSC 2775.
- Successfully represented Defendant hospital and nursing staff in resisting Plaintiff’s motion to add five nurses to the action in substitution of the previously named John Does, following the expiration of the limitation period. Urie v. Peterborough Regional Health Centre, 2010 ONSC 4226.
- Tips for Defending Sexual Assault Cases, Osgoode Hall Law School Professional Development, 2023.
- Recent Trends in the Application of the “Cap” on General Damages in Sexual Harassment and Assault Cases, Osgoode Hall Law School Professional Development, 2021
- Practical Tips: A Litigator’s Checklist, Osgoode Hall Law School Professional Development, 2021
- Insurance and Liability – Professional Liability Insurance Coverage, Appraisal Institute of Canada, AGM Conference, 2021
- Overlapping Insurance Coverage, In-House Presentation of Insurance Company, 2021
- Getting Carried Away: Circumstantial Evidence on The Standard of Care, Stieber Berlach LLP Insurance Law Update Seminar, 2020
- Top Appeals Of 2020 from The Ontario Court of Appeal, Ontario Bar Association, 2021
- Litigating Class Actions Claims Amidst Profound Change, Ontario Bar Association – 12th Annual Class Actions Colloquium, 2020
- Long-Term Care Homes, COVID-19 and Personal Injury Litigation, The Advocates’ Society, 2020
- Professional Liability Insurance Coverage, Appraisal Institute of Canada, AGM Conference, 2017
- Understanding Overlapping Insurance Coverage, Insurance Company, 2016
- Legal Update: Summary Judgment and Experts, Insurance Company, 2015
- Negligent Misrepresentation: When Is There Reliance? Stieber Berlach LLP Insurance Law Update Seminar, 2015
- Panelist, Tips from The Bench, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014
- Class Action Suits: Be Prepared, The Canadian Institute, 2011
- Effective Management of Insurance Claims and Litigation, Canadian Defence Lawyers, 2010
- Class Action Litigation: Maple Leaf Case Study: An Example of Crisis Management, The Canadian Institute, 2009
- Duty of Care: Recent Appeal Cases and Considerations, by Elizabeth Bowker and Madeline Mackenzie, published by Ontario Bar Association, Substantive Law for Litigators, 2022
- “Recent Trends in the Application of the ‘Cap’ on General Damages in Sexual Harassment and Assault Cases,” by Leigh Clark and Elizabeth Bowker, published by Osgoode Professional Development, Civil Sexual Assault: Critical and Emerging Issues, 2020
- “Covid-19 Class Actions in the U.S. – might / could / should they migrate north?,” by Elizabeth Bowker and Nabil Mahmood, published by Ontario Bar Association – 12th Annual Class Actions Colloquium: Litigating Class Actions Claims Amidst Profound Change
- “Negligent Misrepresentation: When is there Reliance?,” by Christopher Afonso and Elizabeth Bowker, prepared for Stieber Berlach Insurance Law Update, 2015
- “Case Commentary: Stephenson v. Cheng,” 2019 ONSC 543 (CanLII)
- “Case Commentary: S.H. v. CAS of Haldimand-Norfolk,” 2019 ONSC 848 (CanLII)
In the media
- CBC, “Supreme Court dismisses appeal against Maple Leaf Foods over tainted meat”
- The Globe and Mail, November 6, 2020 “Supreme Court rejects franchisees’ financial claim against manufacturer over tainted meat losses” https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-supreme-court-rejects-franchisees-financial-claim-against/
- Canadian Lawyer, November 9, 2020 “No duty of care owed by Maple Leaf Foods to Mr. Sub franchisees for contaminated meat, SCC rules” https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/practice-areas/litigation/no-duty-of-care-owed-by-maple-leaf-foods-to-mr.-sub-franchisees-for-contaminated-meat-scc-rules/335050
- The Lawyer’s Daily, November 6, 2020 “Company had no duty of care to sandwich shops impacted by meat recall: SCC” https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/practice-areas/litigation/no-duty-of-care-owed-by-maple-leaf-foods-to-mr.-sub-franchisees-for-contaminated-meat-scc-rules/335050
- Supreme Advocacy, Court of Appeal decision of the Week, April 1, 2010 “When Canada Has Jurisdiction to Sue Travel Agency for Injuries Abroad” https://supremeadvocacy.ca/2020/04/01/civil-litigation-torts-jurisdiction-simpliciter-and-forum-non-conveniens/
- The Lawyer’s Daily, March 20, 2020: “Duty at ‘all stages’ of child protection investigations owed to child, court rules”
- Law Times, February 8, 2020: “Condo board capacity still unsettled after decision on notice and nullity”
- Canadian Underwriter, October 17, 2019 “Supreme Court of Canada mulls liability for reputational harm from tainted meat” https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/legal/supreme-court-of-canada-mulls-liability-for-reputational-harm-from-tainted-meat-1004169797/
- Law Times, May 14, 2018 “Duty of care must be scrutinized, says OCA” https://www.lawtimesnews.com/practice-areas/personal-injury/duty-of-care-must-be-scrutinized-says-oca/263054