Your case is NOTHING without evidence.
Just because you’ve been involved in a car accident, slip and fall, dog bite, or you’re in pain does NOT mean that you have a injury case which has merit.
In Ontario, we prove and establish cases through evidence. If you don’t have proper evidence, then you don’t have a case. You can be the nicest person. You can be the most credible and likeable person. You can be the most articulate person. You can have the most catastrophic injuries ever known. You can be experiencing the worst chronic pain EVER; but without the proper evidence, you don’t have a case.
This is exactly what happened to poor Ms. Nandal in her slip and fall case against the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). (Nandal v. TTC 2014 ONSC 4760 CanLii)
On or about the 18th day of November, Ms. Nandal was walking down the staircase at the TTC’s Kennedy Station in Scarborough, when she alleged to have “slipped and fell on slippery and debris strewn steps, falling down approximately 15 stairs, and suffering severe injuries“.
The gist of this is that Ms. Nandal alleges that she slipped and fell on some sort of debris or garbage, causing her to fall down a lot of stairs. The result was that Ms. Nandal fractured her clavicle.
Ms. Nandal sued the TTC under the Occupiers’ Liability Act, for failing to keep their property safe for public use. Ms. Nandal argued that the debris or the slippery stairs presented a hazard which the TTC knew, or ought to have known of, and failed to clean it up.
In response to the lawsuit, the TTC brought a motion to the Court for summary judgment to dismiss the Plaintiff’s claim.
Defendants bring these sort of motions when they deem that the Plaintiff’s claim is frivolous, without merit, or won’t stand a chance of success at trial. The legal terminology used under Rule 20 of the Rules of Civil Procedure (the rules of the Court), is that there is NO GENUINE ISSUE for trial.
A copy of the Court’s decision from the motion for Summary Judgment can be found at the link here. It’s an interesting read, even if you aren’t adept at reading legal case law. Just 6 pages in length, the Honourable Justice Perell explains why the Plaintiff’s case fails and does not meet the burden of proof to establish a genuine issue for trial.
This decision, goes to show just how important evidence is for any personal injury case. It also goes to show that just because you’ve been injured, or just because you fell (as Ms. Nandal did), does not automatically entitle you to compensation or mean that you will have a successful injury case.
There was no dispute from the TTC that it owned the staircase where Ms. Nandal fell. The TTC didn’t even dispute that Ms. Nandal fell, or that she sustained injuries from the fall. All of this for the purpose of the motion was admitted.
Where the TTC argued that there was no genuine issue for trial was because the Plaintiff had not properly established liability (fault) against the TTC.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act dioes not impose a strict liability if a fall happens on property. Just because a hazard, or even a dangerous hazard is on someone’s property does not “in itself lead inevitably to the conclusion that the occupier had breached its duty” under the Act. The duty of cat under the Act is not a standard of perfection either. The standard of care is one of reasonableness.
What is reasonable will depend on previous case law; whether or not the maintenance standards of the company/person were complied with; what by-laws say; and primarily; what the Judge/Jury deems to be reasonable in the circumstances.
At her examination for discovery, Ms. Nandal testified under oath that she had seem debris at Kennedy Station in the past. BUT, on the date of her fall, she could not remember exactly what she fell on, nor could she recall seeing any debris that day.
There were no witnesses to confirm that Ms. Nandal fell on debris, or to confirm what state the stairs were in at the time of her fall.
It was conceded that the stairway tiles where Ms. Nandal fell were non-slip tiles and that that the tiles were not defective and in a proper state of use/repair.
Ms. Nandal did not have any photos of the debris which she alleges that she fell upon.
The Judge found that Ms. Nandal’s claim had to fail because she did not have ANY evidence whatsoever about this alleged hazard upon which she alleges that she fell upon. All Ms. Nandal was able to provide was a belief that she fell on debris or slippery stairs. But a believe alone, without any supporting EVIDENCE isn’t good enough in an Ontario Court.
The Judge noted that it is of course possible that Ms. Nandal fell on litter at the top of the stairs. But, he went on to state that the Plaintiff failed to prove that on a balance of probabilities, and failed to prove that the TTC failed to meet its statutory obligations to keep the station reasonably safe for its patrons.
Of particular interest was Justice Perrell’s comment about that standard of perfection which everyone who is involved in a slip and fall seems to believe exists:
“It is not reasonable or even practicable to impose an obligation on the TTC to be in a position to continuously and immediately clean up after its patrons who litter the TTC premises, including its staircases”.
The end result of this case, was that after 5 years of litigation, and thousands of dollars of real money, not to mention the lawyers’ time, her case was dismissed by the Court even before going to trial. And the reason the case was dismissed was because Ms. Nandal failed to show proper evidence in her case to establish liability against he TTC for her fall.
Lesson: No evidence. No case. It can’t be any more simple than that.
Enough law talk? Sure. Toronto’s professional baseball team had been playing somewhat meaningful baseball. And then August happened. It was an August to forget for many reasons. I’m going to make a bold prediction. When Toronto’s baseball team gets a proper grass field, then they will be a competitive playoff team. Until such time, they will remain a 500 or so baseball team without the ability to attract and keep talent, and without the ability to build a proper franchise.
Are there rumours swilling that Toronto will be getting a 2nd NHL franchise? If that’s true, I predict that the current Toronto NHL franchise will win a Stanley Cup. Why you ask? Toronto’s first NHL team, doesn’t want to be humiliated by its 2nd team. The 2nd team will force the 1st team to really focus on winning, instead of the other things.
What was the best thing about this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post? Was it the review of hot off the press case law? Perhaps for the lawyers out there who are in to those things. But for the majority of our readership, we know that the best thing about this Blog Post was the image of BJ Birdie. For many at our office, this image brings back memories of poor weather baseball days at Exhibition Stadium, along with PLAYOFF BASEBALL and WINNING. Wasn’t it nice when this team WON GAMES on a consistent basis. Come to think of it; when was the last team a Toronto franchise won games on a consistent basis…..Call me a biased basketball fan, but Toronto’s Atlantic Division winning team did a great job at that.