Ontario Superior Court finds plaintiff contributorily negligent in slip and fall case

She did not inspect the steps for ice or use the handrail before stepping up

Ontario Superior Court finds plaintiff contributorily negligent in slip and fall case

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice found the defendant 75 percent liable and the plaintiff 25 percent contributorily negligent for a slip and fall incident at a Thornhill, Ont. store.

The incident occurred at a Party Supply Depot store. The plaintiff, a grade four teacher, visited the store after work. She parked her vehicle in a side parking lot, walked along a salted sidewalk to enter the store, and spent between one and a half and two hours shopping. Upon exiting, she moved her vehicle to the front of the store to load her purchases.

While approaching the store's steps, the plaintiff slipped and fell. She wore appropriate winter clothing and observed snow in the parking lot. Despite her precautions, the court noted that she did not inspect the steps for ice or use the handrail before stepping up. The plaintiff testified that she trusted the store had taken necessary safety measures.

The defendant, Bayview Summit Development Limited, was responsible for maintaining the exterior areas, including the steps where the plaintiff fell. Evidence showed that the defendant’s maintenance log did not capture all salting and inspection activities on the day of the incident. While the log indicated maintenance work from 9:56 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., there was no contemporaneous record of salting or inspection close to the fall, approximately 5 p.m.

Testimonies from the store owner and employees confirmed salting activities throughout the day. However, the defendant could not provide clear evidence that the steps were salted sufficiently or inspected adequately in the hours leading up to the accident. Photos and videos taken by the plaintiff’s son after the incident showed visible salt in some areas but not where the plaintiff stepped and fell.

The Superior Court found that the defendant did not maintain a reasonable inspection and maintenance system, contributing to the unsafe conditions. However, the plaintiff was also found negligent for not exercising caution, including by failing to use the handrail and not looking out for ice.

Based on the facts and relevant case law, the court apportioned liability 75 percent to the defendant and 25 percent to the plaintiff.

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