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.
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.
Planning to hire a contractor to do some work on your house this year? You better make sure that they are well qualified. Take time to check references and look them up online to see that they are dependable. Personal liability claims for workers’ injuries can extend to homeowners and, if a contractor or their employees are injured on your property, you could be liable for their medical bills, lost wages or damages for pain and suffering.
Construction work can be dangerous and your home, when it’s under renovation, becomes a work site. Any renovation involves risk to the owner, the contractor and all of the workers on site.
What is the homeowner’s liability ?
Before your contractor starts the job:
Ask to see a copy of their license, liability insurance and Worker’s Compensation insurance. Ask for the policy number, write it down and call to check those numbers are legitimate.
Review your contract and make sure that all of the work is listed along with costs and guarantees.
Take the time to walk through your home and the job site with your contractor to make them aware of any unsafe conditions that could cause an injury.
Being helpful could make you liable
While the contractor completes the work:
Never offer to lend your contractor your own tools or equipment. You may be liable if your equipment contributes to an injury.
Watch for workers who are obviously unsafe or who are not following accepted guidelines for safe practices.
Keep a running inventory of supplies, tools and equipment and make sure that your contractor stores them properly at the end of the day.
Contractors are trained professionals, but accidents can and do happen. Sadly, most homeowners think that if a contractor is hurt on their property while working, they will not be liable. This is a dangerous belief. By not properly vetting the people you hire to work on your construction or renovation projects, you are leaving yourself open to liability. Take precaution and keep your home construction site safe.
Flooding has become a frequent occurrence over the past years as we hear of more and more homes and families wiped out by water damage and without insurance coverage to bail themselves out. Water damage can be costly for homeowners. Water can damage just about anything leaving homeowners devastated and dealing with soaring repair bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, flood coverage is not automatically included in all home insurance policies.
Know your homeowner’s liability policy
Read your homeowner’s liability policy, commercial liability policy and / or tenant’s insurance policy to make sure you are properly insured. Among other things, these policies cover you if someone is hurt on your property. If someone is injured and you do not have adequate insurance, the injured person’s lawyer could come after your assets. Make sure you have enough enough insurance to cover a flooding disaster.
Flood insurance can always be purchased as optional coverage, but homeowners are usually still surprised to learn that they are not automatically covered when they find themselves in need. Be aware of short timelines if someone becomes injured. If someone is injured on city property, the timelines are quite short and notice must be given within 10 days.
Fortunately, there are many things that a homeowner can do to protect their home, property and self.
- Store important documents and personal items away from flood prone areas like basements.
- Carefully chose your footwear. Choose a shoe that has the most grip.
- Never store hazardous materials such as paint, oil and cleaning supplies in the basement. They can leak when submerged in water and create an environmental hazard.
- Know where the water main shut off is in your house.
- Never walk through water in flooded areas if the power is still on.
- Make a plan for your pets in case of evacuation. They are not often welcome in shelters.
- Have a friend or neighbour check your home daily if you are planning to go away during the winter.
- Raise large appliances off the basement floor to avoid water damage.
- Anchor fuel tanks. These tanks can float or tip over in a flood causing leakage and a possible fire.