BC Court of Appeal Finds There is only a "Single Standard" Under the Occupier's Liability Act
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal discussing the standard of care for Occupier’s Liability lawsuits in BC.
In today’s case (Charlie v. Canada Safeway Limited) the Plaintiff slipped and fell near a display of flowers while shopping at Safeway in Duncan, BC. The flowers were kept in water and when customers picked up the flowers for purchase they sometimes “could drip (water) on the floor”. She was injured and sued for damages.
During her fall the Plaintiff knocked over one of the buckets of flowers spilling a considerable amount of water on the floor. The Plaintiff could not offer direct evidence that dripped water made her fall but inferred that this was the cause of her fall. At trial the Court refused to make this inference and dismissed the lawsuit. The BC Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal finding there was no error in law in the Court refusing to draw the same inference the Plaintiff made.
The Plaintiff went further and argued that “there are two types of occupiers’ liability cases: “due diligence cases” and “unsafe conditions cases”. She accepts that in “due diligence” cases, a system such as the one in place in the case before us would satisfy the requirements of the Act. She says, however, that where the occupier has created an “unsafe condition”, there is a greater duty to take care to protect visitors to the premises from risk.”
The Court of Appeal rejected this argument and in doing so made it clear that there is only one standard of care to be applied in BC Occupier’s Liability lawsuits. The Court provided the following reasons:
 I do not agree with the plaintiff’s contention that different standards of care apply to different types of hazards on an occupier’s premises. The Occupiers Liability Act establishes a single standard of care, “a duty to take that care that in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that a person … will be reasonably safe in using the premises.” While the extent of a danger posed by any particular hazard will obviously be an important factor in assessing the reasonableness of an occupier’s response to it, I do not think that it is helpful to define different types of hazards that entail different standards of care.