The title of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post, “Brian Goldfinger and the Case of the Bad Delivery” sounds like it could be a young adult mystery novel. I mean; who wouldn’t want to read a book about middle age personal injury lawyer Brian Goldfinger cracking the case on a delivery gone bad? Sound exciting enough; right?!?!?
Let me share a story with you. During the early stage of the Pandemic, my law firm, Goldfinger Injury Lawyers moved from a large office building at 45 Sheppard Ave East in Toronto; to a self contained unit at 167 Sheppard Avenue West, also in Toronto. The move was under a kilometer in distance, but it was still a hard move.
The rationale for the move was quite simple. At the large office building all of our staff and visiting clients had to pay for parking; and parking was quite limited. More importantly, we weren’t too keen during the pandemic to sharing space with strangers. We had to share the elevators, share the bathrooms, share the boardrooms, hallways, reception area, lobby and hallways with the other tenants on our floor. It wasn’t ideal during a global pandemic. Mind you this was pre-vaccines and also when we believed that COVID was not only airborne, but could also be spread on surfaces.
Needless to say, my staff nor my clients were thrilled by the idea of sharing space or common areas with others. The fewer exposures, the better.
So we decided to move down the street.
The new office gave our clients and staff free parking. We no longer had to share any common areas such as washrooms, boardrooms, elevators, hallways, reception area etc. We had to space all to ourselves. It was much more comfortable, and safe from a COVID perspective (keep in mind this is early on in the Pandemic before vaccines were readily available).
The new office needed new desks, new chairs and all sort of miscellaneous office furniture.
One cold and wet day, the office furniture arrived at our office. But, because of COVID, then delivery people refused to transport the office furniture from the delivery truck, inside of the office. They simply left the office furniture outside, steps from the curb, along Sheppard Avenue West in front of our new building.
The office furniture was stacked large boxes and shipping containers. It was far too heavy for one, or even four people to lift. It was far too large and awkward to carry. By our estimate, the shipment weighed over a ton!
We couldn’t get movers in fast enough to move the furniture from the curb inside of the office. It just sat there on Sheppard. Too big, heavy and awkward to move. It was ripe for a sophisticated crime syndicate to pick. Thousands of dollars or unused and freshly packaged office furniture, outside in plain sight, ripe for the taking.
But, we managed to get that furniture inside the office and placed. But that’s another story.
This “bad delivery” reminded me of a few cases we’ve handled.
When a retailer sells a consumer goods; and the consumer pays for delivery either directly or indirectly; it’s still the retailer’s responsibility to ensure not only that those good are delivered without damaging the goods, but also that the goods are delivered safely.
Take the example of a delivery being made from a retailer aboard a delivery truck to a consumer at his/her own home. In this case, the delivery company only has one person on the job; when the packaging of the delivered good clearly states on the box that lifting the object is a “two person job” or “heavy load“. What happens to the consumer if s/he gets injured in assisting to lift or transport said good?
These cases are not uncommon. In the day and age of businesses reducing overhead to maximize profits; we see these cases more and more. Some injuries are minor. Some of the injuries are more severe in nature.
When pursuing these claims, it’s important for the Plaintiff not only to name the principal retailer who sold the goods, but also the logistics company, or contractor or subcontractor who was responsible for the safe delivery of these goods. We often see more than one Defendant in these types of cases. What will happen is there will be a contract between the retailer and a logistics contractor or subcontractor. What’s contained in the contract may contain a clause relating to the indemnification of liability should there be any claims of negligence. Basically, one Defendant will be pointing the litigation finger (or finger of who bears the blame) at another Co-Defendant; and so on. Eventually, the music will stop such that one Defendant will accept the blame or multiple Defendants will apportion the blame between themselves. It’s a way to minimize risk and exposure for a Defendant. Unfortunately, this sort of pass the blame game causes delay for a Plaintiff and his/her case.
It’s important for Plaintiffs to appreciate that retailers and their transportation contractors are responsible for the safe delivery of their goods. Especially when those goods are large, heavy, and can cause serious injury if not moved properly. Just because the goods are paid for and at the store or on the moving truck, does not mean that they are now the responsibility of the Plaintiff and any injury which those goods cause are the responsibility of the Plaintiff. Possession remains 9/10ths of the law. If the goods are in the power, possession or control of the retailer or logistics company; despite the fact that they have been paid for; the Defendant retailer and their logistics contractors bear the responsibility for the safe delivery/shipment of those good to their final destination. That final destination also needs to be a safe place for the goods to be stored or left. They cannot be left in plain sight, outside on the curb of a busy street. Most important, the onus cannot be placed on the end user to safely transport said goods when the cost of delivery is either paid for, or built in to the purchase price.