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Crocker v Sundance Northwest Resorts Ltd, [1988] 1 SCR 1186 (Link)

Facts:

Crocker and a friend entered a tubing competition, and signed waivers without understanding that they were waivers (they were intoxicated).

The race was 2 days later. That morning Crocker and his friend drank heavily. After winning the first heat, they drank more. The owner of the resort asked Crocker if he was ok to compete and Crocker said yes.

While at the top, Crocker was visibly drunk (inner tube fell, etc). Manager of the resort suggested that they shouldn’t continue in the competition. Crocker and his friend competed anyway and hit a mogul on the way down. Crocker injured his neck and was rendered quadriplegic. Crocker sued and in the original trial Sundance was held liable for 75% of damages suffered. Crocker was found contributorily negligent.

Issue(s):

Did the resort have a duty to prevent Crocker from competing? (Is Sundance liable for the damage Crocker caused to himself?)

Ratio:

Sundance must accept the responsibility, as the promoter of a dangerous sport, for taking all reasonable steps from allowing an intoxicated person from participating.

Analysis:

Analysis 1. Duty of Care:
** Referred to Jordan House v. Menow and other cases: That one is under a duty not to place another person in a position where it is foreseeable that that person could suffer injury. The plaintiff’s inability to handle the situation in which he or she has been placed is an element in determining how foreseeable that injury is.
** Sundance organized the dangerous competition for profit; provided liquor to Crocker; were aware of Crocker’s condition. Therefore Sundance had responsibility for taking all reasonable steps to prevent a visibly incapacitated person from participating.
** “When a resort establishes a competition in a highly dangerous sport and runs the competition for profit, it owes a duty of care towards visibly intoxicated participants.”
** Therefore, there is a duty of care, now look at whether Sundance took sufficient steps to discharge that duty.
** Court notes that intoxication was important for foreseeability, but that intoxication was separate from whether there was a duty of care.

Analysis 2. Standard of Care:
** Many chances for Sundance to dissuade Crocker from competing.
** They did not and therefore failed to meet its standard of care. Sundance could have dissuaded Crocker. Judge emphasized that there was not much burden. Sundance failed to meet standard of care.

Analysis 3. Causation:
** Sundance argued that the event was equally risky for those who were not intoxicated.
** Judge dismisses that claim based on facts of the trial. Having organized the competition for profit, etc, Sundance had to take responsibility for promoting a dangerous sport.

Analysis 4. Voluntary Assumption of Risk:
** A defence based on the moral supposition that no wrong is done to one who consents.
** Not applicable here: plaintiff did not assume both physical and legal risk involved in the activity.
*** 1. Crocker participated voluntarily? No, intoxicated. He also did not assume legal risk through conduct.
*** 2. Crocker signed a waiver form? Crocker didn’t even know what he was signing. He may have assumed the physical risk, but definitely not the legal risk.

Holding:

Decision in favour of Crocker (with 25% contributory negligence).

Comments:

Note the language used by the Court: “Visibly” intoxicated; “adequately” discharged duty


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