Facility Forum - Spring 2016 - (Page 41)

REFRIGERATION AND ICE hockey injury Lawsuit Dismissed By Barry W. Kwasniewski, B.B.A., LL.B., partner Carters Professional Corporation This article first appeared in Charity & NFP Law Bulletin No. 375, November 25, 2015 and is reproduced with permission. introduction freeimages/albin axelsson A decision, released on September 1, 2015, of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Levita v. Crew and True North Hockey Canada ("Levita")1 highlights the importance of liability waivers as an effective liability shield. This is particularly true when charities and notfor-profits are engaged in activities, or even fundraising programs, that may involve the risk of harm or injury to participants or others. In Levita, an adult hockey player who was injured during the course of a hockey game sued both the opposing player, Alan Crew ("Mr. Crew"), who was alleged to have intentionally or negligently caused the injury, and the hockey league, for alleged negligence for allowing the opposing player to participate in league play. For the reasons to be discussed, the lawsuit was dismissed against both defendants. While the dismissal of the claim as against Mr. Crew led the court to conclude that the claim as against the League could not succeed, the court nonetheless had instructive comments on the issue of the enforceability of liability waivers. For charities and not-for-profits, an important part of risk management in relation to programs, events, and activities is the consistent use of liability waivers. A well-drafted waiver may provide a complete defence to injury or property damage claims. This Charity and NFP Bulletin discusses the issue of the enforceability of waivers by reference to the court's decision in Levita. While that case did not involve charities or not-for-profits, the principles of the case apply equally to both types of organizations. Facts True North Hockey Canada True North Hockey Canada ("TNHC") is a recreational adult hockey league that began in 1990 with only 16 teams of 15 players each. It has since grown to over 754 teams and over 10,000 players. TNHC holds itself out as a non-contact recreational hockey league and charges $500 to each player to participate in the league. At the beginning of each season, the TNHC requires the players to sign a waiver. The waiver informs the players that playing hockey has inherent risks. The risks outlined in the waiver include the risk of collision with other participants, the risk of collision with other objects such as hockey sticks, pucks, boards, nets, or ice. Additionally, the waiver states that injuries could arise from being struck by "sticks and pucks, and injuries from collisions could include injuries to the eyes, face, teeth, head and other parts of the body, bruises, sprains, cuts, scrapes, breaks, dislocations and spinal cord injuries" which may cause paralysis. Importantly, the waiver released the TNHC and its officials from liability for loss or injury that the player may suffer while participating in league games. The Players Involved in the Dispute Mr. Levita, a 36-year-old lawyer at the time of the injury, joined the league in 2000. He joined the TNHC to improve his hockey skills and for the social aspects of the game. He also joined the TNHC Facility Forum | 41

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Facility Forum - Spring 2016

CAO’s Message
Industry Watch
Rink on the Roof
ORFA Professional Development Pillars
A World without Grass
Asset Management for Public Facilities
Risk Management
Modernization of Safe Food and Water Regulations under the Health Protection and Promotion Act
Health & Safety
An Amazing Transformation
Member Profile
Hockey Injury Lawsuit Dismissed
Energy Champion
Index of Advertisers

Facility Forum - Spring 2016