By Phoenix Howe, Student
In the recent Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decision of Westerveld v Cineplex Entertainment Corp, 2022 CarswellAlta 920, Master Mattis described the obligations imposed on an occupier under the Occupiers’ Liability Act (OLA).
In this case, the plaintiff sustained a knee injury after she tripped and fell over a raised footrest of a recliner seat while exiting a Cineplex movie theatre.
The plaintiff sued Cineplex under the OLA and in negligence. Cineplex brought a summary dismissal application which was granted. Master Mattis dismissed the plaintiff’s claims because Cineplex discharged its duties owed under sections 5 and 6 of the OLA. Cineplex’s regular system of inspection and maintenance demonstrated that they had acted reasonably to keep the premises safe.
The takeaways from this case are:
- An evidentiary burden is placed on the occupier to demonstrate that it applied the degree of reasonable care, required by the foreseeable risk, sufficient to keep visitors reasonably safe.
- Section 5 of the OLA imposes a duty on the occupier to take reasonable steps to keep visitors reasonably safe from foreseeable harm.
- Section 6 of the OLA requires an occupier to take into account the condition of the premises, the activities occurring on the premises, and the conduct of third parties on the premises, in determining what is required to ensure the reasonable safety of visitors.