The Court of Appeal has just released an important decision about liability waivers and occupiers’ liability. This impacts any potential plaintiff that has been seriously injured as the result of an occupiers’ negligence, and signed a waiver of liability that limits their right to sue for damages.
Background to the appeal
Last February, we wrote about Schnarr v. Blue Mountain Resorts Limited. This case involved a plaintiff that was injured while skiing and sued the resort for negligence. He had purchased a lift pass online, and by doing so, had accepted a total waiver of liability by the resort.
The total liability waiver was permitted by the Occupiers’ Liability Act (OLA), but the plaintiff brought an application to determine whether certain provisions of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) rendered that waiver void. The court agreed that the permitted the plaintiff to advance a breach of warranty claim irrespective of the waiver. Blue Mountain appealed that decision.
The appeal was heard alongside a similar claim, Woodhouse v. Snow Valley. In that case, the judge had also determined that the CPA permitted the plaintiff’s claim to proceed, and that the defendant’s liability waiver was not valid, regardless of the provisions in the OLA.
The Court of Appeal disagreed with the findings of both lower court judges, and determined that there was an inherent conflict between the provisions of the OLA – which explicitly permit liability waivers – and those of the CPA – which prohibit a service provider from using liability waivers to avoid its statutory requirements. Since the defendants are both occupiers of the ski hills, and service providers to the plaintiffs, they are caught in this conflict.
Ultimately, the court found that the OLA superseded the CPA in this case. Accordingly, the defendants are permitted to rely on the waivers signed by the plaintiffs in defending the claims.
Personal injury advice for claims involving waivers
If you were seriously injured at a ski resort or other recreational facility that required a signed liability waiver, you may have questions about the impact this could have on a potential negligence claim. At Jasmine Daya & Co., our lawyers have experience handling serious accident claims, including spinal injuries, paralysis and serious orthopaedic injuries.
We offer free consultations to new clients. To make an appointment, contact us online, or call our office at 416-967-9100.