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Claim Arising From Slip and Fall at Courthouse Dismissed

In Martin v. AGO et al, 2022 ONSC 1923, the plaintiff, a lawyer, attended at the Hamilton courthouse and slipped on a small amount of water.  It was raining on the day of the accident, and the water on the floor came from a wet umbrella of a visitor to the courthouse.

A day porter employed by a contractor, along with supervisory staff, were at the premises during business hours.  The day porter was responsible for maintaining and cleaning the public areas of the courthouse.  The day porter had placed wet floor signs.

The day porter testified that she completed at least four daily inspections of the floors.  These inspections were not documented, but Justice Valente found the day porter to be credible and a conscientious and diligent employee.

Justice Valente noted that previous caselaw has established that the duty of care on an occupier does not require the occupier to remove every possibility of danger.  The standard is one of reasonableness, not perfection.  The test is whether the occupier had reasonable policies and procedures for the inspection and maintenance of the premises and whether those policies and procedures were followed.

Justice Valente was satisfied that the defendants met the standard of care.  His Honour stated that, even if he was incorrect on this issue, the plaintiff had not proven that the fall would have been prevented had the defendants adopted a more vigilant system of inspection.  The amount of water was very small and was not perceptible by at least six people.

In the event liability had been found on the defendants, Justice Valente would have assessed 30% contributory negligence on the plaintiff because the soles on his shoes were approximately 30% warn.

The action was dismissed.  This decision shows that if an occupier follows a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance, the occupier will not be found liable.  Documentary proof of the inspection and maintenance activities is not necessarily required.