Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Court of Appeal dismissing an appeal of a jury finding liability after a tenant of a residential property owned by the City of Burnaby caused severe burns to a guest.
In today’s case (Abdi v Burnaby (City)) the Plaintiff, a young woman who was invited as a guest to a party at the Defendants property “suffered severe burns and her life was forever changed” after the Defendant tenant had a backyard fire and “poured used motor oil onto the fire from a bucket. The oil exploded onto Ms. Abdi, and she became covered in flames from neck‑to‑toe“.
There was evidence that the tenants “had a long history of having fires in the fire pit they created in their backyard, despite open fires being contrary to a City bylaw“. There was further evidence that the City had some prior knowledge of this requiring, at least on one occasion, the City’s fire department having to attend the residence and extinguish a fire. Following this incident the City did not follow up with any inspection of the property despite having a policy to conduct safety inspections of its residential properties.
At trial a jury found both the tenants and the City liable. In dismissing an appeal of the City’s liability the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons: