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April 8, 2015

The Standard of Care for Grocery Stores

The Court of Appeal has once again confirmed that the standard of care for occupiers is reasonableness, not perfection.

In Saisho v. Loblaw Companies Ltd., 2015 ONCA 172 (C.A.) the elderly plaintiff was hit in 2007 by a customer pushing an overloaded shopping cart.  One customer (Beardy) paid for his purchases and loaded his cart.  His friend, Sakakeep, paid for his purchases independently as he was paying, Beardy loaded Sakakeep's purchases into the same cart.  As they moved toward the exit, Beardy bumped into the plaintiff.  The plaintiff suffered severe injuries and was in hospitalized from the date of the incident to his death in 2010.  The claim was dismissed at trial and the plaintiff appealed, alleging that the store should have had a specific policy on overloaded carts and required cashiers to specifically look to ensure customers did not overload the carts.

The Court of Appealed disagreed.  The store had a general policy to be alert for potentially dangerous activities.  Staff were aware that overloaded carts had the potential to cause injury or harm, and if they saw one, they would intervene.  The Court held that to require a standard specifically addressing the problem of overloaded shopping carts would present a standard of perfection, which is not what the law requires.

The trial judge concluded that it was not reasonable to expect a cashier to look behind her to ensure that two distinct customers were not loading their purchases into one cart.  He concluded it was reasonable for the cashier not to have intervened.   The Court of Appeal upheld the decision, holding that the standard of care is reasonableness in the circumstances, and the store met the standard.

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