Canada: No Reasonable Inference = No Causation

Last Updated: June 27 2019
Article by Fiona Brown

This action arises from a fall that occurred on January 14, 2014 on common property owned by the defendant Strata Plan LMS2286 (the "Strata").  Strata retained the defendant Markic Development & Restoration Ltd ("Markic") to perform some remediation work on its premises.  The plaintiff alleges that the remediation work created a hazard that caused his fall.

The plaintiff and defendants filed summary trial motions (aka summary judgment motions) so the issue of liability could be determined before their 12-day jury trial scheduled to commence in December 2019.  The plaintiff sought an order that the defendants were liable for the plaintiff's injuries arising from the fall, while the defendants applied for an order that the plaintiff's action be dismissed on the basis they were not liable for the plaintiff's injuries.

After considering all of the evidence the court found in favour of the defendants and dismissed the plaintiff's action.


At the time of the fall, the plaintiff had been a tenant of a unit in one of the buildings owned by Strata for about a year.  At some point prior to January 2014 the bricks at the top of the stairs on a walkway (the "walkway") had become uneven as a result of pressure from roots of a nearby tree.  It was anticipated that the tree that was causing the problem would eventually be removed and a permanent repair to the walkway would follow.   The Strata retained Markic to perform temporary remediation which consisted of removing the uneven bricks and replacing them with gravel (the "Temporary Remediation").

On the morning of January 14, 2014, the plaintiff took the walkway to access his unit.  He ordinarily did not use this particular walkway and could not recall the last time, prior to the fall, that he had used it.  The plaintiff was ultimately found by a Markic employee, unconscious, and lying face down on the walkway some distance (an estimated 15 – 20 feet) away from the three steps on the walkway.  Nothing was on the ground where the plaintiff was lying that might have explained his fall.   Initially, it was thought that the plaintiff had had a heart attack or stroke.


The plaintiff did not know what caused him to fall and "speculated" that he tripped on something as "that's what makes the most sense."   His theory is that he must have tripped on a "lip" between the loose gravel that was placed as part of the Temporary Remediation and the paving stones on the walkway.   The court was provided with photographs of this lip which depicted a small lip between the loose gravel and the paving stones; it was, according to the court, very difficult to determine the exact measurement of this lip from the photographs and "it could certainly not be characterized as pronounced."

The Occupiers Liability Act

The plaintiff's position was that the Strata owed him a duty of care under the Occupiers  Liability Act ("OLA") to ensure he would be reasonably safe in using the premises and that Markic owed a common law duty to persons walking in the remediation area to carry out the Temporary Remediation in a manner that did not constitute a hazard.

The court noted that the fact the plaintiff could not recall the precise mechanism of his fall was not determinative and direct evidence of causation was not required, so long as the evidence as   whole led to the drawing of a reasonable inference of causation.

The court ultimately concluded that the evidence did not logically support an inference of causation for the following reasons:

  • The photographs show a slight unevenness in the surface of the walkway that could hardly be described as a recognizable risk, or even objectively unreasonable in terms of the degree of evenness that one might expect of a walking surface
  • The Temporary Remediation was in place for a number of months without incident or complaints about it
  • The plaintiff, himself, never reported his fall to the Strata until three months later and after he had moved out of his unit
  • There was no expert evidence in this case to support the inference that the condition of the remediation area was hazardous
  • The patient care hospital record quotes the plaintiff as reporting that the fall was due to him "tripping on an unanticipated step"

In light of these facts, the court was unable to conclude on a balance of probabilities that the plaintiff's fall was caused by the Temporary Remediation as the evidence did not support the drawing of a rational inference of causation, and dismissed the plaintiff's action

Take Away

The photographs produced made a significant impact on the court's decision.  Her Honour was clear that the slight unevenness of the walkway did not represent a risk.  It did not help the plaintiff's case that he could not provide any evidence as to what could have caused him to fall.  While the court pointed out that that, in itself, is not crucial, the evidence as a "whole" must permit the drawing of a reasonable inference on causation.  The above factors, taken all together, dissuaded the court from making such a finding.  One wonders if engineering evidence had been presented whether that would have been enough to sway the court in the plaintiff's favour.

 See Barr v Strata Plan et al, 2019 BCSC 917 (CanLII)

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.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
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