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Ontario Court of Appeal Ruling
A Starbucks employee has landed in hot water in a lawsuit after a recent ruling of th
e Ontario Court of Appeal allowing a Brampton, Ontario teenager to proceed with her lawsuit against Starbucks, the store manager and the barista for negligence over a scalding incident that took place in 2015. In the suit, the Plaintiff alleges that the employee negligently poured hot water on her hands, causing impairment and permanent injuries.
Coffee chain lawsuits
While the latest scalding lawsuit against a coffee chain is not news, this decision is quite significant for Ontario workers and their employees. The decision makes it very clear that when someone is injured as a result of employee negligence, that employee can be held liable.
In the December 22, 208 ruling, the three-judge panel offered a ruling in the lawsuit that Starbucks and its employees, “failed to take re
asonable or any care at all to ensure that the Plaintiff would be reasonably safe while attending Starbucks,” and to “prevent injury… which they knew or ought to have known.” It stated further that Starbucks employed, “incompetent servants or agents and/or staff to ensure the safety of the Plaintiff,” and failed to “instruct properly… their employees in proper methods and procedures to be used to regulate water temperatures and handle hot beverages. “
This new ruling rejects an earlier agreement to strike the statement of claim against the barista and store manager. At that time, the lower court judge wrote, “The general rule remains that the employees are not liable for what they do within in the scope of their authority on behalf of their corporation.”
In the 2015 incident, The Plaintiff asked the barista to fill a baby bottle with warm water. According to the Plaintiff’s statement, the employee filled the bottle with scalding hot water and spilled water on her hands causing severe and permanent injuries.
It remains to be seen whether or not any judgement will be enforced against the employee herself since Starbucks is such a large corporation that was likely insured at the time of the alleged incident.
Lawsuits against coffee shops
Nonetheless, scalding suits continue to emerge; sometimes legitimate cases and sometime urban lore partly on account of the now famous 1994 case against McDonalds in New Mexico. The case, which was examined in a 2011 documentary, awarded a woman close to $3 million in damages after she spilled hot coffee on herself.
If you have been injured by the carelessness of a store employee or due to another person’s negligence, please take the time to call us to learn about your rights. We understand, we care and we are here to help.
Rowan’s Law and Concussion Injury
In a much anticipated move to prevent, detect, manage and understand concussion injury in amateur athletes, the Ontario government introduced Bill 193, Rowan’s Law . The proposed new law is named after Rowan Stringer, a 17-year-old Ottawa-area rugby player who
died in 2013 after suffering several concussions.
The past few years have seen a growing awareness of concussion injuries and the deadly impact of returning to sport before these injuries are treated and a concussion injury has healed. This proposed new law will serve as a benchmark for Canada in concussion awareness, prevention, detection and management.
What is required after a concussion injury ?
The bill has a number of key elements that would require athletes, coaches, educators and parents to:
· Conduct an annual review of concussion awareness resources.
· Set out and adhere to a system to ensure that athletes suspected of having a concussion are removed from sport and establish a protocol for their safe return.
· Establish a return-to-sport procedure for athletes who have sustained a concussion, or who are suspected of having sustained a concussion.
To create further awareness, the legislation would also proclaim “Rowan’s Law Day” to be observed on the last Wednesday of September.
Study after study has proven that too many young people experience concussions while participating in organized sports and recreational activities, sometimes with tragic outcomes. This has become a public health issue and with dire consequences.
· 64 per cent of visits to hospital emergency departments among 10-18 year-olds are related to participation in sports, physical activity and recreation.
· Among children and youth (10-18 years) who visit an emergency department for a sports-related head injury, 39 per cent were diagnosed with concussions, while a further 24 per cent were suspected of possible concussions.
· Football, soccer and hockey have all shown a greater than 40% increase in rates of reported head injury (relative to other injuries) between 2004 and 2014 for children and youth.
As a parent and coach, I have been trained to recognize the symptoms of head injuries, but this is not the case with all coaches, teachers, group leaders and parents.
Thankfully, the Ontario government has moved swiftly in introducing this legislation. It is an important first step in changing the way we treat sports injuries and in championing the well-being of amateur athletes.
Accident on an escalator or elevator injury …
An elevator injury or escalator injury can be devastating. Elevator or escalator injuries have transformed the lives of millions of people around the world by enhancing their mobility and independence, a convenience that cannot be overlooked. Yet, people still feel uncomfortable using them at times and worry about safety.
An elevator injury is more common than an escalator injury with 7,300 escalator and 9,800 elevator injuries requiring hospitalization in the United States each year. In most cases, injuries happen as a result of result of slips and falls. So, it’s no surprise that children and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
People of all ages and abilities use elevators and escalators every day in shopping centers, apartment buildings, offices and transit stations each person using them in a different way.
When using elevators and escalators, follow these safety rules to avoid an elevator injury:
· Watch the direction of the moving step and step on and off with extra care.
· Take care if you are wearing bifocals or similar eyewear.
· Hold children firmly with one arm or hold child’s free hand.
· Hold small packages firmly in one hand, but always leave one hand available to hold the handrail.
· Do not go in the opposite direction of the escalator.
· Do not try to stop a closing door with anything including hands, feet, canes, etc. Wait for the next elevator.
· Watch your step, and enter and exit carefully.
· Hold children and pets firmly.
· Stand clear of the doors, and keep clothes and carry-ons away from the opening.
· Hold onto the handrail if one is available.
When injuries do occur, it may be difficult to prove who is liable. The manufacturers, maintenance companies and building owners will first want to prove that the elevator or escalator was used properly – handrails were used, the rider did not engage in reckless behaviour. However, accidents do happen because of faulty products, poor building design or lack of maintenance.
If someone is injured on an escalator or elevator as a result of poor design, the victim could file a liability suit against the manufacturer. When the injury can be attributed to poor building maintenance, failures in inspections or other unsafe conditions, the victim could hold the building owner responsible for failing to keep them safe under the Occupiers’ Liability Act.
A workplace injury can happen anywhere. A workplace injury can also go far beyond the industrial and construction site accidents that we hear about in the news. Workers are often injured in offices, retail stores, restaurants and many other industries. In fact, the Association of Worker’s Compensation Boards of Canada reported in 2015 that there were 281 fatalities in Ontario: that’s one about every 31 hours. Non-fatal injuries amounted to 51,570: that’s one every 10 minutes.
Employees injured on the job and their families have a lot to cope with including a wide range of expenses and losses. If you suffer a workplace injury, you or your family are entitled to benefits or compensation to recover these losses. · Loss of Earnings · Compensation for Non-Economic Loss · Loss of Retirement Income · Compensation for Future Economic Loss · Health Care Benefits · Health Care Equipment and Supplies
Most workers are able to claim benefits for their losses either through workers’ compensation or by suing their employer for damages.
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is an independent agency of the Ministry of Labour in Ontario responsible for providing workers’ compensation to Ontario workers who become injured on the job
This is a “no-fault” system which means you can get workplace insurance benefits without proving that your employer was to blame for your injury or disease. Even if you think that the accident at work was your own fault, you are still entitled to benefits and services from the WSIB. Work-related injuries include those sustained while running errands off the premises or while travelling for work. It does not cover break periods or travelling / commuting back and forth to work.
To qualify for a workplace injury insurance benefits, you must meet the requirements set out in the Ontario law that governs workplace insurance. It is really important to file the claim as soon after you are injured as possible. Employees who wait too long have a harder time gaining full compensation. As always, report early, take a lot of pictures, write down the details and get the names and numbers of any witnesses.
Because workplace insurance is a “no-fault” system, you can receive benefits without proving that your employer was to blame for your injury or disease. Even if you think that the accident at work was your own fault, you are still entitled to benefits and services from the WSIB in almost all cases.
If you are covered by the WSIA, you cannot sue your employer in court for your injuries
Suing your employer or a third party for a work place injury
If you believe that your employer was to blame for your injury or disease, you can sue for damages. You should make this decision before you file workers’ compensation because once you file your claim, you can no longer sue your employer under the “no-fault” system.
If your workplace was unsafe, the equipment was unsafe, or your employer was unintentionally reckless, you can sue . You could also sue a third party, for example a cleaner, visitor or contractor to your work place if they have unintentionally done something that contributed to your injury.
Injuries at work can be complicated. Whether filing a workers’ compensation claim or suing your employer, you should take the time to first consult with a lawyer. Consultations are free. Call us today.