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Employee’s Personal Liability for Negligence in Toronto Ontario

Employees’ Personal Liability for Negligence – Sataur v. Starbucks Coffee Canada Inc., 2017 ONCA 1017 (CanLII)

In Sataur v. Starbucks Coffee Canada Inc., 2017 ONCA 1017 (“Sataur”), the appellant, Abigail Sataur, pleaded that she was injured when a barista at a Starbucks in Brampton poured scalding hot water on her hands. Ms. Sataur sued Starbucks, the barista (Jane Doe) and the manager of the store, Danielle Bovenberg, for negligence. Ms. Sataur alleged that each of the two individual defendants owed her a duty of care and that each was personally liable for breaching her duty.

On appeal from the motion wherein the motion judge had struck the Statement of Claim against the two personal defendants, the Court of Appeal concluded that the motion judge had erroneously comingled two separate concepts: the employer’s vicarious liability for its employees acting within the scope of their employment; and employees’ personal liability for their own negligence while acting within the scope of their employment.

In Sataur, the Court of Appeal held that there is no general rule in Canada that an employee acting in the course of her employment cannot be sued personally for breaching a duty of care owed to a customer.

In support of its decision, the Court of Appeal cited London Drugs Ltd. v. Kuehne & Nagel International Ltd., 1992 CanLII 41 (SCC) wherein the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the principle that a plaintiff has the right to sue the person who was negligent, regardless of whether the employee was working for someone else or not.

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