Canada: Cautioning Customers For Conditions Of A Curb

Last Updated: June 20 2019
Article by Jocelyn-Rose Brogan

In May 2019, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in Ali v. Smart REIT, 2019 ONSC 2824 ("Ali"), granting the defendants' request for summary judgment against the plaintiff who tripped on a curb leading to the entrance of a shopping plaza.

The Incident

The plaintiff was walking towards a shopping plaza owned by the defendants when she tripped and fell on a curb located between the parking lot and sidewalk. Next to or where the plaintiff fell, there was a curb-cut which sloped down to the parking lot surface to provide barrier-free access for people in wheelchairs or with walkers.

The exact location of where the plaintiff placed her footing on the curb before she fell was not captured on CCTV footage.

The Lawsuit

The plaintiff claimed that the defendants were negligent and breached their duty of care imposed by section 3 of the Occupiers' Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.2 ("OLA"), to take reasonable care in all of the circumstances to keep their premises reasonably safe for persons entering into the premises.

The main allegations against the defendants was that the curb was uneven and that the absence of yellow paint marking the curb breached the standard of care.

The Summary Judgment Motion

The two legal and factual issues on the summary judgment motion were: 1) whether the defendants failed to meet the standard of care; and 2) if the defendants breached the standard of care, whether that breach caused the plaintiff's fall.

On the summary judgment motion, Justice Copeland considered photographs of the curb, the plaintiff's evidence, a video of the fall, an opinion of a defence engineering expert, and the evidence of a manager of a store located near the curb.

She concluded that " was plain and obvious that the defendants met the standard of care imposed..." under the OLA.

In particular, Justice Copeland considered the following factors in reaching her conclusion that the curb, including the curb-cut, complied with the standard of care and did not pose an unreasonable risk to people attending the plaza:

  • The curb appeared to be an ordinary sidewalk curb, which a pedestrian could encounter in a variety of locations in the greater Toronto area.
  • According to the opinion of the defence engineering expert, which she accepted, the curb was neither unusually high nor unusually low. The curb did not contravene any municipal or provincial by-laws or building standards.
  • The curb and the curb-cut were in a good state of repair.
  • The curb and the curb-cut were clearly visible. The view of the curb was not obstructed for pedestrians approaching it.

Of interest, Justice Copeland agreed with the plaintiff that painting the curb a contrasting colour may make the curb more visible, and for that reason safer; however, the absence of a contrasting colour did not mean the defendants fell below the standard of care.

Justice Copeland considered her own experiences in the greater Toronto area where most curbs are not painted a contrasting colour, and that there is no code or regulation requiring that this particular curb be painted, according to the defence expert engineer.

Even though the curb was painted yellow sometime after the accident, Justice Copeland was not persuaded that the standard of care requires that sidewalk curbs be painted a contrasting colour.

Since Justice Copeland found that the defendants did not breach their duty of care, it was not necessary for her to deal with the issue of causation; however, she addressed this issue in the alternative.

The defendants argued that the plaintiff was unable to say exactly where she tripped or exactly how she tripped; therefore, the plaintiff's evidence was too uncertain to establish causation.

The plaintiff argued that she is not required to pinpoint the exact place of her fall and that causation is not required to be proven with scientific precision.

Justice Copeland concluded that had she found that the defendants breached the duty of care, she would have held that there was a triable issue in relation to causation.


Ali demonstrates the importance of determining the applicable standard of care for occupiers in various situations.

Just because a plaintiff may be able to point to something more that an occupier could have done to make their premises safer, this does not equate to a breach of a standard of care. Occupiers are held to a reasonableness standard.

As stated by Justice Copeland "...people fall in the absence of any wrongdoing on the part of another. It is unfortunate, but it happens...".

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
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions