Chris is a Partner with Harper Grey and has over 25 years’ experience with all aspects of civil litigation. The focus of Chris’ practice is complex, multi-party disputes. He is counsel in some of Canada’s largest and most technically challenging cases in the fields of product liability, environmental contamination and construction.
Chris’ education and background in the field of chemical engineering makes him particularly adept at dealing with complex issues and evidence such as hydrocarbon migration in soils, large scale landslides, covalent bond failure analysis, and econometric modeling. Chris’ case experience includes acting as counsel in the Mount Polley mining disaster litigation and the tobacco health care cost-recovery lawsuits being advanced by each of the ten provinces across Canada.
During his practice, Chris has developed close working relationships with counsel throughout Canada and has earned a strong reputation as a team player. He has represented his clients in courts across Canada, including the courts of appeal in British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick and the trial courts of British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and the Yukon. Chris also has extensive experience with mediation and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
Chris is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia Faulty of Law where he teaches Ethics and Professionalism. Chris has also lectured at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Engineering. Chris regularly volunteers his time to teach and lead seminars for the British Columbia Law Society’s Continuing Legal Education program and the Inns of Court program. He is an editor of the British Columbia Limitations Manual published by Lexis Nexis.
Chris is Harper Grey’s Innovation Partner, Co-Chair of the Construction & Engineering Law Practice Group and has served on the firm’s executive committee.
Recognized as a “Leader in His Field” in the area of General Commercial Litigation (British Columbia) by Chambers Canada®, 2017 - 2021
Recognized as a "Leading Lawyer" in the areas of Insurance Law and Construction Law by Best Lawyers® in Canada, 2015 - 2021
Recognized as a “Future Star” in British Columbia by Benchmark Canada®, 2012
Recognized as a “Local Litigation Star” in British Columbia in the areas of Construction, Environmental and Product Liability by Benchmark Canada®, 2013-2021
Rated as a "Repeatedly Recommended Leading Practitioner" in the area of Litigation – Commercial Insurance by Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory®, 2018-2021
Inducted as Fellow
Rated as "Recommended" in the area of Construction, Engineering & Infrastructure by Doyles Leading Lawyers Guide, 2020
- Counsel to British American Tobacco companies based in the United Kingdom in respect of claims advanced against them by each of the ten provincial governments. The governments are seeking recovery of billions of dollars health care costs expended on the treatment of tobacco related disease. The claims are unprecedented in scope as the enabling legislation renders inapplicable provisions of provincial limitation acts, allowing claims to be advanced that date back to the 1950s.
- Counsel to an engineering firm in respect of claims arising from the failure of the Mount Polley Mine tailings storage facility. The failure has been described as the largest environmental disaster in the history of Canada. The claim seeks damages related to the environmental clean-up .
- Acting for a leading architectural firm in the defence of allegations of professional negligence in the design of a large high-rise condominium. The case involved more than 30 named defendants, a large volume of documents and damages in excess of $12 million were claimed.
- Acting for a large, national geotechnical engineering firm in a number of actions arising from two large landslides. In total, more than 20 separate actions were commenced. In addition to the legal proceedings, Chris was involved in extensive negotiations with the provincial and municipal governments regarding issues of ongoing public safety. As lead counsel, Mr. Rusnak was responsible for case strategy, file management, conduct of examinations for discovery, guidance to paralegals and junior lawyers, instruction of experts and ultimately the case strategy that led to successful resolution on behalf of his client.
- Representing a joint venture of three international engineering firms who were sued over their involvement in large-scale expansion of a waste water treatment plant. The case related to alleged design and construction defects associated with the projects waste water digesters. There were thousands of documents, many days of discovery and extensive expert evidence of a technical nature.
- Counsel in over 100 cases relating to leaking condominiums and other buildings. These claims were generally large, complex multi-party proceedings. Damages claims range from $200,000 to $30 million, and there were often 20 or more parties involved in the claims.
- Co-counsel on behalf of a port authority in proceedings relating to historic hydrocarbon contamination of a large industrial site. Approximately 20 parties were involved in six concurrent actions seeking more than $35 million in clean-up costs. Document disclosure was extensive and the expert evidence highly technical. The matter proceeded to trial but was resolved by out-of-court settlement before the trial was completed.
- Counsel in a series of matters involving claims by dozens of plaintiffs who alleged damages suffered due to sexual assaults allegedly committed while they were students of a former school teacher criminally convicted of sexual assault offences and designated a dangerous offender. Chris acted as counsel on behalf of a number of physicians named as defendants in the proceedings. The cases received significant media attention and, given its sensitive subject matter needed a carefully planned litigation strategy. In his role as lead counsel, Chris worked collaboratively with other counsel involved in the case to bring it to a successful resolution.
- Representing numerous physicians in a variety of disputes, including the defence of a paediatric cardiac surgeon in the British Columbia Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. The case involved allegations of professional negligence arising from a surgical procedure on a child to repair a condition known as coarctation of the aorta.
- Chartered Arbitrator, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, 2021
- University of Victoria, LL.B., 1992
- Queen’s University, B.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering (Hons.), 1989
- Appointed Queen’s Counsel, 2020
- Yukon Territory, 2001
- British Columbia, 1994
- Adjunct Professor, UBC Allard School of Law, 2019
- Mentor, Harper Grey Mentoring Program
- Seminar Leader, Inns of Court, Counsel’s Role in Document Discovery
- Assistant Chair, Harper Grey Construction & Engineering Law Group
- Past Chair, Harper Grey Construction & Engineering Law Group
- Presenter at continuing education seminars held by architects, engineers and industry organizations regarding professional liability and environmental risk management issues
- Lecturer, Faculty of Engineering, University of British Columbia
- Lecturer, Continuing Legal Education Society of BC courses and Professional Legal Training (Bar Admission) course
- Member, The Law Society of British Columbia
- Member, Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch Subsections:
- Construction Law
- Past Member, British Columbia Construction Roundtable