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Bernice R. Bowley

Bernice R. Bowley

TEL: (204) 957 8353

FAX: (204) 954 0353

Email:

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Legal Assistant:
Dana Granger

TEL: (204) 956 2970 Ext. 253

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"My strengths are cost-effective, proactive and results-oriented litigation. With over 25 years of experience as a litigator, I can provide sound advice on efficient litigation strategy or when and how to choose alternative resolutions. "

Areas of Focus

Bernice is a partner of Fillmore Riley LLP and maintains a comprehensive commercial insurance litigation practice including general insurance defence, professional errors and omissions, product liability, construction, subrogation and coverage. She also practises in the areas of municipal liability, administrative law, and employment law.

Bernice's clients include the Municipal General Insurance Program maintained by the Association of Manitoba Municipalities and the Liability Insurance Program handled by the Manitoba School Boards Association. She is the Manitoba lawyer for a number of health-care professional liability programs. Her clients include a variety of other Canadian, American, and international insurance companies.

She has appeared before all levels of court in Manitoba, the Federal Court of Canada, and various tribunals.

Recently, Bernice acted as counsel to the Rural Municipality of Montcalm in defending an action brought against it by John Penner and Richard Boon in relation to tax sales of various properties (2019 MBQB 122).  The Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench granted Montcalm’s request for summary judgment dismissing the claim, and awarded lawyer and own client costs against the plaintiffs in favour of Montcalm.

Bernice also counsels and represents clients in Alternative Dispute Resolutions and mediations.

Bernice has been recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada in insurance and municipal law since 2012. She is also recognized as a leading lawyer in professional liability, commercial insurance litigation and corporate commercial litigation by The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory. She was admitted to the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2020.

Professional Activities

  • Member, Canadian Bar Association
  • Member, Manitoba Bar Association
  • Member, Management Committee, Fillmore Riley LLP
  • Chair, Litigation Practice Group
  • Chair, Municipal Law Practice Group
  • Chair, Library Committee

Publications / Presentations

Representative Clients / Cases / Transactions

Representative Clients 

  • Counsel to and engagement partner for the Municipal General Insurance Program which provides liability and other insurance to all municipalities in Manitoba, other than the City of Winnipeg
  • Counsel to and engagement partner for the Manitoba School Boards Association insurance program, which provides liability and other insurance to school divisions in Manitoba
  • Western Financial Insurance Group Solutions
  • Sovereign General Insurance Company
  • American International Group, Inc.
  • Various professional liability insurance programs for health-care professions

Representative Cases 

  • 5976511 Manitoba Ltd. et al. v., 2020 MBQB 7 (CanLII) Bernice was hired as external counsel by the plaintiff companies to argue two motions: the plaintiffs’ motion to enforce a settlement, and the defendants’ opposing motion to strike the motion to enforce the settlement as being an abuse of process. The motion to strike the settlement motion was granted by Madame Justice Grammond despite it being an exceptional remedy. The Court referenced Pearson v. Plester et al., a 1989 Manitoba Court of Appeal decision which confirmed that Rule 49.09 “recognizes the right of a party to a settled action to elect, where the other party reneges on the settlement, to enforce the settlement or to accept the other party’s repudiation of it.”  In deciding whether the election made by the plaintiffs was binding, the Court relied on the 2011 Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Charter Building Company v. 1540957 Ontario Inc. That case summarized the common law principles governing the doctrine of election as being a choice between two inconsistent courses of action, the choice affecting the rights or obligations of another party, that the party making the choice knew that the two courses of action were inconsistent, and that they had a right to chose between them, the choice was made unequivocally, and the choice was communicated to the other party.  As well, Grammond J. held that where there is clear communication of an election, an active step in litigation was not required to make the election a binding one.  
  • Henderson v. Canadian Hockey Association Inc. et al, 2016 MBQB 51, Henderson v Elder, 2017 MBCA 45, 2018 CanLII 1153 (SCC) Following a trial in the fall of 2016, Bernice was successful in dismissing the statement of claim brought against the volunteer coach of the peewee hockey team following incidental physical contact between the plaintiff referee and a peewee player.  The plaintiff referee sought to hold Bernice’s client, the volunteer coach, responsible for damages arising out of the contact.  The trial Judge held that the plaintiff failed to meet his onus in establishing negligence and his claim was dismissed with costs. Following an appeal in 2017 by the plaintiff referee, the Manitoba Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s dismissal of the statement of claim, writing that there was no evidence of negligence, carelessness or intent to injure on the part of the unidentified player or the volunteer coach, and that he had failed to meet his burden to establish liability. In 2018, the plaintiff referee sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. His leave application was dismissed.
  • Susinski et al. v. Municipality of Shoal Lake et al., 2017 MBQB 132 (CanLII) The plaintiffs claimed for house damage resulting from the municipal low-pressure sewer system.  Bernice acted for the municipality and brought a successful summary judgment motion.  The Court held that the plaintiffs failed to present sufficient evidence to show that the municipality’s standard of care was improper or that it breached the standard of care both in relation to the design and construction of the system, and with respect to post-construction issues.  The Court agreed that the plaintiffs could not establish a cause of action per the Rule in Rylands v. Fletcher.  The Court also applied section 395 of The Municipal Act and found that the municipality was not negligent. The plaintiffs’ claim was dismissed.