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A Law Blog by Toronto Slip & Fall Lawyer Mark Yazdani


Disability Law Practice

In addition to my slip and fall practice, I am also a Toronto disability lawyer who helps individuals whose short-term and long term disability claims have been denied. Please visit my disability law website which contains both a long-term disability guide as well as a short-term disability law guide. I also have a disability blog where I post disability articles. If you or a loved one has a disability related inquiry, please feel free to call me at 416-630-8880.

Mark Yazdani

Guy vs. Toronto (City) – Slip & Fall Case Analysis – Part 1

On December 15, 2008, Justice A.J. Stong of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released the Guy v. Toronto (City) court case involving a slip & fall accident. The case touches on a number of important legal issues involving liability in slip & falls on municipal property.

The Facts

On March 11, 1999, Ms. Vier Guy and her husband were on their way to Robotech school located on Greenwood Avenue in the City of Toronto. They took the Bloor/Danforth TTC subway line to Greenwood Station. After exiting the station on Linnsmore Cres., they started walking westbound on a laneway to get to Greenwood Ave. There was an accumulation of snow on the ground as there had been a snowstorm in Toronto a few days earlier. Suddenly, Ms. Guy slipped and fell on a thick accumulation of ice which had been concealed by snow.

Ms. Guy hit her head and buttocks on the ice in the fall. She immediately experienced pain in her wrist. Her husband helped her up and continued to Robotech where the school nurse recommended they go to the hospital.

Ms. Guy was diagnosed with Colles’ fracture to her left wrist, which was placed in a cast. Because of the pain in her wrist and ongoing headaches, she was unable to write her final exams and lost a semester’s tuition. She also needed assistance with homemaking and caring for her young son.

Ms. Guy hired a Toronto slip & fall lawyer and brought a lawsuit against the City of Toronto for damages resulting from the injuries she suffered.

In Part 2, we will talk about the first defence raised by the City of Toronto – that Ms. Guy failed to give notice of the slip & fall in time.

Guy vs. Toronto (City) – Part 2 – Failure to Give Timely Notice

The first defence raised by the City of Toronto was that Ms. Guy’s lawsuit was barred by the Municipal Act because she failed to give notice of her claim in writing by registered mail and within seven days (note that current requirement is 10 days).

Ms. Guy’s fall occurred on March 11, 1999. Five days later she wrote a handwritten letter to the City about her fall. She sent the note by regular mail. The City received the letter on March 22, 1999, eleven days after the fall. Her note stated the following:

I, Veir Guy, of the above mentioned address, fell down on the alley between Greenwood and Danforth immediately after leaving the Greenwood subway station.

The City argued that by the time they received the letter all the snow and ice would have melted due to weather conditions. Thus, they were denied the chance to inspect the site.

However, the court rejected the City of Toronto’s arguments and found that they did not suffer any prejudice by Ms. Guy’s failure to provide timely notice. The court noted that the City did not inspect the site until May 6th (nearly two months later), and thus the lateness of the notice letter by four days did not impact on their ability to quickly examine the slip & fall area.

The City also argued that the note incorrectly identified the location of the alley and did not specify where the mound of ice was that she slipped on. However, the court found that Ms. Guy’s description of the fall location was easily ascertainable by anyone with knowledge of the area and the City’s insurance adjusters were able to locate the area without difficulty.

Justice A.J. Stong of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice concluded on the issue by stating:

In the circumstances of this case, any prejudice suffered by the City arising from the very brief delay in the timing of the notice and the sufficiency of the notice, of which in the circumstances I find none, would be clearly outweighed by an injustice that would be occasioned to Ms. Guy if her claim were to be barred, in light of the fact that she did attempt to provide the City with timely notice, although delivered by regular mail rather than by personal service or registered mail.

Thus, the court was clearly swayed by the fact that Ms. Guy made an attempt to notify the City in a timely manner and that the City of Toronto did not suffer any prejudice by the delay. In the current version of the Municipal Act, section 44(12) states as follows:

Failure to give notice or insufficiency of the notice is not a bar to the action if a judge finds that there is reasonable excuse for the want or the insufficiency of the notice and that the municipality is not prejudiced in its defence.

In Part 3, we will talk about the court’s analysis of the City’s liability for the slip and fall accident.