Case Commentary – Ski Resort Waivers in Ontario

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  • When you buy a lift pass, and sign a ski waiver, what exactly does the waiver cover? Many of us do not think very much about these types of waivers, but a recent decision from the Ontario Supreme Court has clarified some limits to an Ontario ski resort’s extremely broad waiver of liability.

    Schnarr v Blue Mountain Resorts Limited

    The plaintiff in this case, David Schnarr, had purchased a ski pass from Blue Mountain Resorts online. In order to complete the purchase, he was required to accept a ski waiver excluded him from bringing any legal claims that may arise in negligence, breach of contract or breach of any other statutory or other duty.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Schnarr was injured while skiing and began a legal action against the resort, claiming negligence under the Occupiers’ Liability Act as well as a breach of warranty pursuant to Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act. The ski resort denied both claims, arguing that the waiver he executed online precluded either claim from proceeding.

    Ski waivers and the Consumer Protection Act

    In a preliminary proceeding, Mr. Schnarr asked the court to disregard Blue Mountain’s ski waiver in it’s entirety because it violated certain protections in the Consumer Protection Act. Specifically, the waiver attempted to prevent Mr. Schnarr from exercising the consumer rights enshrined in that statute, which specifically states that the, “rights given under this Act apply despite any agreement or waiver to the contrary.”

    Blue Mountain disagreed, arguing that the Occupiers’ Liability Act specifically permitted waivers of liability, and to disregard the waiver would deprive it of the rights enshrined in that particular statute.

    The court had to consider how the two statutes should be interpreted in light of the competing arguments. They determined that the ski waiver was invalid only to the extent that it limited the rights set out in the Consumer Protection Act, and could not be used to limit the plaintiff’s claim in breach of warranty. However, the waiver remained valid to the extent that it attempted to limit Blue Mountain’s negligence under the Occupiers’ Liability Act.

    Ski waivers and your legal rights

    At the end of the day, Mr. Schnarr will be able to bring both claims against Blue Mountain. The claim that they were negligent occupiers of the resort will be limited by the applicable waiver. However, the ski waiver cannot be used to limit his claim that the resort breached a warranty under the Consumer Protection Act by failing to provide services of an acceptable quality.

    Every lift ticket these days includes a waiver, and if you are unsure about your legal rights, one of our personal injury lawyers can provide helpful insight. In the unfortunate event that you are injured on the slopes, we can also provide guidance about your potential avenues to recover compensation for your injuries and expenses.

    The personal injury lawyers at Jasmine Daya & Co. have over 100 years of experience handling complicated personal injury claims, and we understand how statutory obligations can impact access to compensation. We offer free consultations to new clients.  Contact our office online or at 416-967-9100.