You are a student at Carleton University and you are currently taking a second year Critical Legal Studies course regarding private law obligations. A dear friend of yours, Doug, has come to you in an agitated state. He recently attended a house party that went catastrophically sideways, and is convinced that he can earn a big payout by pursuing a variety of different groups in court – claiming the harms he suffered were a result of their negligence. Doug’s story is as follows: On Saturday evening Doug attended a party hosted by his neighbours. The party was held inside the neighbour’s home, but also outside on their property. In particular, the neighbour had constructed a large outdoor temporary deck or ‘stage’ for dancing. In the week leading up to the party, Doug overheard several fights between some city inspectors and the neighbours about the stage, but, while the inspectors threatened to stop the construction, they never returned to the house. The party itself was very large and went on throughout Saturday afternoon and well into the night. Doug estimates at least a hundred people attended the party, probably more. The hosts of the party ordered many kegs in addition to all the alcohol people brought themselves – and gave beer out freely. Near the end of the evening, a party goer, who Doug suspects was intoxicated, accidentally backed their vehicle into the temporary stage, causing it to collapse. A number of the kegs, which had been stacked precariously on the edge of the stage by the hosts, toppled and hit a lamp post. Later that night, during a wind storm, the lamp post toppled and smashed Doug’s mother’s car – which Doug had borrowed for the evening. Because Doug is not covered by his mother’s insurance, the company will not cover the repairs. Doug wants to pursue the party goer who hit the stage, the party hosts, the City of Ottawa, and Keg Masters Ltd (the manufacturers of the Kegs) for damages due to their various (alleged) negligence. In addition to the costs associated with repairing the car, Doug intends to pursue damages for lost wages from the days he took off his job to deal with the issue and an additional $2 million for pain and suffering in relation to how angry his mother is about the car. Doug means well, but you are concerned that he does not sufficiently understand some basic principles of tort law in Canada to make informed choices about spending money to pursue this matter in court. Doug has come to you for advice. Although you have clearly indicated to them that you are not a lawyer, you feel obligated to help Doug become more informed about the sorts of legal actions he is considering. Drawing on assigned course materials relating to i) how courts make determinations regarding negligence (duty of care, standard of care, causation and remoteness) and ii) the way in which damages are calculated where a defendant is found responsible, provide your friend with an outline of how the four parties he is considering taking action against might, or might not, be held responsible Canadian tort law.
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