James Chadwick Rankin, carrying on business as Rankin's Garage & Sales v. J.J. by his Litigation Guardian, J.A.J., et al.
(Ontario) (Criminal) (By Leave)
(Publication ban in case) (Publication ban on party) (Certain information not available to the public)
Torts - Negligence, Duty of care, Motor vehicles, Minors.
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(PUBLICATION BAN IN CASE) (PUBLICATION BAN ON PARTY) (COURT FILE CONTAINS INFORMATION THAT IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR INSPECTION BY THE PUBLIC)
Torts — Negligence — Duty of Care — Motor vehicles — Minors —Teenagers consuming alcohol and marijuana, trespassing on commercial garage lot and stealing car — Single car crash causing catastrophic brain injury to passenger — Whether property owners owe duty of care to trespassers and thieves injured during commission of crime — Whether trespassing teenagers are owed enhanced duty of care by virtue of status as minors — Whether duty of care is negated when teenagers participate in criminal activity
Two teenage boys, under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, trespassed on the property of a commercial garage and stole an unlocked car in which the keys had been left in the ashtray. The boy driving the car crashed it, leaving the other boy with a catastrophic brain injury. Through his litigation guardian and parents, the injured boy sued the owner of the garage, the driver, and the driver’s mother (for having supplied some of the alcohol and for having failed to supervise the boys) for negligence, claiming that they all owed the injured boy a duty of care.
The trial judge found that the garage owner owed the injured boy a duty of care, and instructed the jury accordingly. The jury returned a verdict finding all parties negligent, and the injured boy himself contributorily negligent. It apportioned liability as follows: garage owner 37%; driver’s mother 30%; driver 23%; and injured boy 10%. The Court of Appeal dismissed the garage owner’s appeal, finding that the trial judge did not err in finding a duty of care and did not err in her instructions to the jury; nor was the jury’s verdict unreasonable.
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