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August 27, 2014

Slip and Fall Action Dismissed on Summary Judgment Motion

In Occupier's Liability cases, it is important to remember that occupiers are not insurers.

In Nandlal v. Toronto Transit Commission, 2014 ONSC 4760 (S.C.J.), the plaintiff alleged she fell on debris on the stairs in a subway station.  At her examination for discovery she testified she slipped on floor tiles.  She could not describe what she fell on and there were no witnesses.  A janitor was assigned to the station and followed a detailed schedule of regular maintenance and cleaning.

Justice Perell held that a plaintiff must pinpoint some act or omission on the part of the occupier that caused the plaintiff's injury.  The Occupier's Liability Act does not impose strict liability and the presence of a hazard does not lead inevitably to the conclusion that the occupier has breached its duty.  The occupier does not have to remove every possible danger; the standard of care is one of reasonableness, not perfection. 

Justice Perell allowed the TTC's summary judgment motion and dismissed the claim.  The plaintiff could not prove a hazard existed, and the evidence was that TTC took steps to make its premises as safe as in all the circumstances was reasonable.  He used a common sense approach:

[29]           It is important for a court to use common sense when applying the statute: (Canada) Attorney General v. Ranger, supra, at para. 34. Falls at bus terminals, airports, seaports, train stations, subway stations, occur without someone being responsible or with the responsibility resting with someone other than the occupier of the property. Falls occur on stairs found everywhere without anybody being responsible for what is just an accident. It is not reasonable or even practicable to impose an obligation on the TTC to be in a position to continuously and immediately cleanup after its patrons who litter the TTC premises including its staircases.  

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