Saisho v Loblaw Companies Ltd – A store’s liability for the actions of one of its patrons
6/30/2014 2:07 PM
In the recent case of Saisho v Loblaw Companies Ltd, 2014 ONSC 1949, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice addressed the liability of a business when one of its patrons causes injuries to another patron on the premises of the business.
The case arose out of an accident that took place in December 2007, when a patron of the defendant store overloaded his cart to the point that he could not observe where he was going. He then accidentally struck the elderly plaintiff with his cart, causing traumatic injuries that resulted in the plaintiff being rendered a quadriplegic and being hospitalized until his death in 2013.
The Court acknowledged the general statutory duty on occupiers such as the defendant store, imposed by the Occupiers Liability Act of Ontario to take reasonable care to ensure all persons on an occupier’s premises are reasonably safe (a statutory duty which is also imposed by the Occupiers’ Liability Act in Nova Scotia).
The plaintiff argued that the defendant store was liable due to a lack of signage and lack of a policy to deal with overloaded carts, stating that this amounted to a breach of the duty of care that the defendant store owed to its patrons. While the store did not dispute that it owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, it argued that its policies and practices, and the actions of its employees, were appropriate and reasonable.
The Court concluded that the store kept its premises reasonably safe for its patrons, including reasonable steps to prevent patrons from being struck by an overloaded cart. The store had a policy in place that instructed employees on how to deal with potentially unsafe situations, and store employees were aware of the hazards of overloaded carts. The Court stated that it would be incumbent on the defendant store’s employees to stop a customer who was pushing an obviously overloaded cart. However, based on the evidence presented, the Court held that none of the defendant store’s employees had been in a position to stop the accident from happening.
The claim against the defendant store was thus dismissed, and the patron who hit the plaintiff with his cart was found to be wholly at fault for the injuries caused to the plaintiff.
The full text of Saisho v Loblaw Companies Ltd can be found at http://canlii.ca/t/g6bqh. If you have questions or would like to discuss this topic further, please contact Sandra L. McCulloch at Patterson Law at 1-888-897-2001.
Please note that this article is meant to provide information only and is not intended to confer legal advice or opinion. Please note as well that many of the statements are general principles which may vary on a case by case basis. If you have any further questions, please consult a lawyer.