02 Jul Developer Not Responsible For Plaintiff’s Fall

In Lam v. Westbank Projects Corporation, 2018 BCSC 1708, the Plaintiff realtor attended an open house at a presentation centre. The presentation centre was established to market a new multi-unit condominium development. While there, the Plaintiff fell off a raised platform and injured herself. The Defendant’s position was that it was not negligent in the design or set up of the presentation centre, and that the raised platform was not a hazard.

The Plaintiff was invited to attend for a preview of the new development, where lunch would be provided. Lunch was set up on a table on a raised platform in one area of the presentation centre. The platform was approximately six to eight inches in height. There was red tape placed along the entire edge of the platform to mark where the change in height occurred.

The Plaintiff was aware of the platform because she stepped up onto it when she went to get her lunch. She got a plate of food and then stepped away from the table. She did not realize that the edge of the platform was so close. She went to step off the platform, but “missed half the step and fell”. She landed hard on her knee and then fell forward into the adjacent wall.

There was no issue with the lighting in the presentation centre nor did the Plaintiff notice any foreign substances or anything slippery on the platform or the floor. Her principal complaint was that the raised platform was too narrow, given the size of the food table, which left little room for people to manoeuvre.

The Defendant estimated that as many as one hundred people had been through the presentation centre and there were no reports of previous incidents in which people had fallen off the platform.

The duty owed by an occupier of premises is to take reasonable care to see that persons using the premises will be reasonably safe. In order to succeed in her claim, the Plaintiff had to establish that the Defendant breached the standard of care owing to individuals who entered the premises and that the breach caused her injuries.

The Judge was not satisfied that the raised platform which the Plaintiff fell off of constituted an unusual danger or a hazard. It was clearly there to be seen and the Plaintiff was aware of it because she stepped up on to the platform to go to the lunch table. Further, the edge of the platform was marked by red warning tape, which would have further alerted her to the change in elevation. The area was well lit, the platform and floor were in good condition, and the Plaintiff did not slip or fall on any foreign substances.

In addition, the Plaintiff was unable to identify the cause of her fall, other than to say that she “mis-stepped”. She did allege that there were too many people on the platform and that the lunch table was too large for the space which left her little room to manoeuvre. However, her evidence on this point was vague and she did not establish that this was what caused her to fall.

Although there was no doubt that the Plaintiff fell and injured herself, the Judge was unable to find that the Defendant breached the duty of care owed to her or that its conduct caused the injuries sustained. The Plaintiff’s claim was dismissed with costs.