Singer Katz LLP Successfully Responds to Appeal After Last Year’s Hard Fought Victory at Trial
It was a tough liability case against the City of Toronto and the City took a very aggressive position throughout the entire trial and appeal. In the end, however, it was another lesson in how to stand up for what is right.
“What I feel most proud of is our ability to successfully fight for our client till the end against a defendant with unlimited resources.” said lead legal counsel Jason Katz about the City’s dismissed appeal.
In a decision released in June 2019, the trial judge held that the City breached the duty of care it owed as an occupier under the Occupiers’ Liability Act as the glass in a door in a community centre was found not to be safe in contravention of Ontario Building Code. The glass shattered and struck the Plaintiff in the left eye. The injuries required four surgeries and she is now legally blind in that eye.
The City of Toronto appealed this decision arguing that the trial judge did not contemplate whether it took reasonable steps despite the wrong glass being installed. In a decision released in September 2020, the Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed the appeal stating that the parties had narrowed the issue at trial regarding the standard of care to the type of glass installed in the door and that it was inappropriate to raise a new issue on appeal. The Court of Appeal wrote that the City is not allowed to” litigate in installments”. This case is a helpful reminder to ensure that all of the arguments a party intends to rely on are presented at trial.
Additionally, the Court held that a breach of the Building Code can be relied upon as evidence that an occupier failed to take reasonable care under the Occupiers’ Liability Act. This is not creating a strict liability test but merely clarifying that a breach of this statutory standard strongly suggests a lack of reasonable conduct to keep people reasonably safe.