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Cross-border shopping slip-and-fall claim against U.S. Home Depot store allowed to proceed in Ontario


March 28, 2012   by Canadian Underwriter


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A cross-border shopper living in Ontario has been allowed to proceed with her slip-and-fall claim in the Ontario Superior Court, even though her injury occurred in a Home Depot outlet located in the United States.

The defendant, Home Depot, moved for a stay of proceedings on the basis that an Ontario Court should not assume jurisdiction of a tort action in relation to a trip and fall accident that occurred in Watertown, New York State.

But in deciding against Home Depot’s motion for a stay, the Superior Court noted the plaintiff’s damages and losses, as well as all of her medical and physio treatment, occurred in Ontario. Also, the plaintiff lived and worked only in Ontario and did so pre- and post-accident.

The plaintiff, Melanie Doris Young, is claiming damages for personal injury after she allegedly fell within the Watertown Home Depot store in June 2009. The court has yet to determine whether her injuries were caused as a result of her tripping over a bunched up section of rug located at the entrance to the Home Depot store in New York, as she claims.

In deciding whether it had jurisdiction over the case, the Ontario court said the circumstances of the case met the threshold of a “real and substantial” connection to Ontario.

“It was conceded by counsel…that by and large, the expert witnesses (medical) are located within Ontario and there would be substantial costs incurred by the plaintiff should she require such experts to attend proceedings in New York State,” the court found.

In addition, the court found that Home Depot is an international organization — with stores in both Canada and the United States — that solicits cross-border shopping by means of the Internet, amounting to a significant connection to Ontario.

The full decision can be found at:

http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2012/2012onsc1971/2012onsc1971.html