Canada: Court Dismisses Track Student's Negligence Lawsuit Against School Board, Track Coach And Principal

On August 2, 2016, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued a decision dismissing a lawsuit against Peel District School Board, a principal and track coach. In Peters v. Peel District School Board et al.1, former high school student and track team member Tiffany Peters sued the Board, the principal, two vice-principals and the track coach for negligence after she was injured during a long-jump practice in 2005. The litigation had been dismissed against the two vice-principals in earlier proceedings.

Ms. Peters was injured during a track practice after school on April 19, 2005. The parties agreed on some of the basic facts, including that Ms. Peters reported having hurt her left knee during the practice and had an operation eight months later to repair a tear in the lateral meniscus on her left knee. She alleged that after the injury and surgery, her condition deteriorated and although she entered university, she ultimately did not succeed in her dream of being a singer, dancer or actor.

In her lawsuit, she alleged that the Board and its employees had been negligent and caused permanent disability, leaving her unable to pursue her career goals. The Court dismissed her case and rejected her claim for damages.

School Board Met Standard of Care

The Court in Peters applied the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision from 1981 on the standard of care in claims of school board negligence, Myers v. Peel County Board of Education.2 A school board and its employees owe a duty of care to students known as the standard of a careful and prudent parent. The Supreme Court explained how to apply the standard in individual cases in the following excerpt from Myers:

[I]t remains the appropriate standard for such cases. It is not, however, a standard which can be applied in the same manner and to the same extent in every case. Its application will vary from case to case and will depend upon the number of students being supervised at any given time, the nature of the exercise or activity in progress, the age and the degree of skill and training which the students may have received in connection with such activity, the nature and condition of the equipment in use at the time, competency and capacity of the students involved, and a host of other matters which may be widely varied but which, in a given, case, may affect the application of the prudent parent standard to the conduct of the school authority in the circumstances.3

At the trial in Peters, the Board did not concede that Ms. Peters tore her left meniscus on April 19, 2005 and submitted to the Court that it could have occurred any time prior to an MRI conducted on September 16, 2005. However, the Court concluded on a balance of probabilities that Ms. Peters tore her lateral meniscus in her left knee on April 19, 2005 during the track practice. The questions for the Court then became:

  1. whether the Board was negligent prior to, at the time of, or after the accident;
  2. what was Ms. Peters' current physical condition and prognosis, and
  3. whether her current physical condition was causally related to the April 19, 2005 accident.

It is worth noting that the Trial Judge found significant inconsistencies in Ms. Peters' evidence and decided it was not reliable. In many instances, other evidence, including Ms. Peters' own prior statements given at examinations for discovery, contradicted her testimony. On the other hand, the Board's witnesses and testimony (given by the Track Coach and Principal) were found to be credible and reliable.

The Court concluded that the Board was not negligent prior to the accident nor at the time of the accident. This conclusion was based largely on the testimony of the Track Coach and another track student and the following key facts:

  1. The Track Coach was on the field when Ms. Peters' injury occurred. The Track Coach was complying with the OPHEA4 guidelines for supervision.
  2. The Track Coach properly instructed Ms. Peters on long jump, and instructed her only to perform "run-throughs", i.e. omitting the final part of the jump where the student takes off from the track and lands in the pit.
  3. The Track Coach properly inspected the long jump pit.

The Court also reviewed what occurred after Ms. Peters' injury and found the Board met the standard of care of a prudent parent. The Track Coach, the Principal, Ms. Peters and Ms. Peters' family members who cared for Ms. Peters after the injury gave evidence.

The Trial Judge concluded that the Track Coach assessed Ms. Peters' injury and determined the best treatment was "RICE" – Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate, which she communicated to Ms. Peters. She accompanied Ms. Peters and another student into the school and confirmed that arrangements had been made for a ride home for Ms. Peters. At that point, she returned to the field to put equipment away. In the circumstances, her actions met the standard of a prudent parent.

One of Ms. Peters' allegations was that she had been left alone at the school after the injury. However, the facts did not support her allegations. The Principal gave testimony about his practice of leaving his door open to the foyer so he could actively supervise students and intervene when necessary. On the evening of the injury, the Principal spoke with Ms. Peters and heard that she was waiting for a ride. She did not appear to be in distress. The Court found that the Principal's interaction with Ms. Peters met the standard of care of a prudent parent.

The Court found that the Track Coach and Principal did not breach the standard of care of a prudent parent in their dealings with Ms. Peters prior to the injury, at the time of the injury or following the accident when Ms. Peters was picked up and taken home. The claim was therefore dismissed.

Damage Assessment

As is standard practice, the Trial Judge in Peters assessed the damages even though the claim was dismissed. The Trial Judge reviewed extensive medical evidence and concluded that Ms. Peters' post-accident condition was not causally related to the injury on April 19, 2005, but was more likely related to her excessive weight gain. The other difficulty with her claim was that Ms. Peters self-reported pain that could not be objectively quantified or verified.

Ms. Peters claimed that the injury had diminished her employment prospects and her aspiration to become an actor, dancer and singer. However, the evidence showed that she undertook little preparation to achieve her dreams. For example, she did not, at any point, enroll in competitive programs for acting, dancing or singing.

Lessons For Educators

This case confirms that the courts will continue to apply Myers and the standard of care of a careful and prudent parent in cases of school board negligence. The application of that standard depends on the nature of the activity and students. In this case, it was highly relevant that the Track Coach was consistent in the training and supervision of her long-jump students and that she followed the OPHEA guidelines applicable to track and field. Both the Principal and the Track Coach provided an appropriate level of care and attention to Ms. Peters after her injury.


1 2016 ONSC 4788.

2 [1981] 2 S.C.R.

3 [1981] 2 S.C.R. at para 31.

4 Ontario Physical and Health Education Association. See

About BLG

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.