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Canadian venue’s damages appeal rejected

A Canadian appeal court has upheld a C$175,000 (€120,000) damages award against an Ontario venue after a concertgoer suffered a serious knee injury following a Toby Keith gig.

The court heard that the main exit of Toronto’s Ontario Place was unexpectedly blocked on the evening of 14 June 2016, leading plaintiff Patrick Lyng, then aged 21, and a friend to leave via a grassy hill that was “devoid of barricades or warnings”.

Canadian Underwriter reports that Lyng, who had consumed alcohol, tore his ACL after jumping from the hill – which was slippery due to heavy rain – in his flip-flops and landing awkwardly.

Lyng sued Ontario Place for compensation under the Occupier’s Liability Act in relation to the incident, with a court subsequently finding the venue 75% negligent compared to the concertgoer’s 25% in a 2022 ruling.

The 15,000-cap appealed the decision, claiming the injured fan was “the author of his own misfortune” by jumping from the hill.  However, Ontario’s Court of Appeal rejected the argument.

“Ontario Place failed in its duty to take care that persons were reasonably safe while on its premises”

“The trial judge specifically found that [by] blocking the pedestrian bridge and making no reasonable effort from preventing the crowd, a number who have been drinking alcohol, from going onto that wet hazardous hill, Ontario Place failed in its duty to take care that persons were reasonably safe while on its premises,” it ruled last month.

“It is important to note that the trial judge did not find that Ontario Place had an obligation to prevent patrons from entering onto all patches of wet grass, everywhere on the premises, but pinpointed what he viewed as Ontario Place’s negligent decision to not place ‘barriers to prevent people from going down [the] slippery hill’. He concluded that it would have been a ‘simple matter to warn people to avoid that hill as it was a slip-and-fall hazard after a heavy rain’.

“The trial judge did what [the Occupiers’ Liability Act] directs him to do – he carefully considered what would have been reasonable in the circumstances. In the end he found two clear breaches: 1) the failure to erect barriers at the location where people would proceed down the hill in question, and 2) the failure to warn the crowd (i.e., by a sign) to avoid the hill.”


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