Luge track operator likely not liable for teenagers' deaths: lawyer

CALGARY -- It is unlikely the operator of a high-performance training facility in Calgary would be held legally responsible for the deaths of two teenage brothers who took an after-hours toboggan run down an Olympic luge-bobsled track, says a liability lawyer.

See Full Article

Peter Collins said the fact that twins Jordan and Evan Caldwell, 17, were former employees at Canada Olympic Park makes it especially improbable that site operator WinSport would be held liable for the incident.

"An owner of property who invites people on has a general obligation to make the property safe," Collins said on Sunday. "But that general obligation and liability doesn't extend in the same way to trespassers."

The Caldwell brothers were killed and six other teenage boys injured -- one critically -- after their sled crashed into a gate separating the luge and bobsled tracks early Saturday.

The twin brothers had worked as "Hill Ambassadors" at the facility last winter.

It's likely they would have been familiar with security protocols and known how to evade measures used to keep people off the track, Collins said.

He described the incident as tragic but said the presence of fencing and security patrols means WinSport likely took the appropriate security steps.

Occupiers' liability law in Alberta provides little protection for trespassers but does require owners to secure their property if it poses a danger to a child.

"It's one thing for an eight-year-old child to see a water slide connect to a swimming pool. If you've got some teenagers, especially older teenagers, who have very specifically worked at the facility, it would be hard to say that they didn't appreciate the risk," Collins said.

WinSport's argument that the boys were trespassers is "not necessarily a slam-dunk defence," said liability lawyer Scott Cozens, from Calgary.

It's difficult to say for certain that WinSport wouldn't be found responsible without knowing all the facts, he said.

"You can be negligent if somebody drowns in your swimming pool even if you didn't let them in, even though you had a fence around it," he said.

Lawyer Cozens noted that even if the company knew staff sneaked into the facility and did nothing to stop it, "that doesn't necessarily mean it's an invitation for all and sundry to break into the premises and use it."

WinSport President and CEO Roger Sloane responded to questioning from reporters on Saturday about how easy it is to access the sliding track, saying "robust security measures" are employed to keep people out. An investigation will ultimately reveal how the teenagers were able to gain entry, he added.

When asked about accounts from alleged former staff of a tradition of being reckless after hours and going down chutes, Heck said he had no knowledge of such instances.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Deaths of doctors, nurses highlight virus risks they run

    World News CTV News
    ROME -- Air raid sirens sounded across China and flags flew at half staff in a tribute Saturday to victims of the coronavirus pandemic including the health care "martyrs" who have died while fighting to save others. Source
  • Trump fires watchdog who handled complaint that triggered impeachment

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has fired the intelligence watchdog who handled the complaint that triggered his impeachment. Trump informed the Senate intelligence committee Friday of his decision to fire Michael Atkinson, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Source
  • Trump fires watchdog who handled whistleblower complaint that triggered impeachment

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has fired the intelligence watchdog who handled the complaint that triggered his impeachment. Trump informed the Senate intelligence committee Friday of his decision to fire Michael Atkinson, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Source
  • Another member of fire panel resigns, criticizes PG&E plan

    World News CTV News
    BERKELEY, CALIF. -- The former chief financial officer for a Northern California city destroyed in a 2018 wildfire caused by Pacific Gas & Electric equipment is trying to upend the utility's plan for getting out of bankruptcy because she believes the company is shortchanging the people devastated by its misconduct. Source
  • Alberta health minister used confidential information to call protesting doctors

    Canada News CBC News
    When Dr. John Julyan-Gudgeon went to a hospital event to protest health-care cuts, he didn't expect it to lead to an after-hours phone call on his personal cellphone from the health minister. But that's exactly what happened. The doctor attended a provincial funding announcement at the Red Deer Regional Hospital on Feb. Source
  • Judge demands FBI provide new details about its surveillance

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The chief judge of a secretive national security court demanded Friday that the FBI provide him with details about some of its investigations after the Justice Department inspector general identified problems with more than two dozen wiretap applications. Source
  • Major credit card companies raise tap limit to $250 to help cut spread of COVID-19

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Major credit card companies have increased their tap limit to $250 to help customers who want to make less physical contact while shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic. MasterCard and Visa raised the tap limits from $100 to $250 and the Retail Council of Canada is hoping that Interac will soon follow. Source
  • 'Always new expenses': Lawsuits filed as anniversary of Broncos bus crash nears

    Canada News CBC News
    It's been almost two years since the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan and with the solemn anniversary comes a closing legal window that has seen several lawsuits filed in court. Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured after a transport truck barrelled through a stop sign and into the path of the bus carrying the junior hockey team on April 6, 2018. Source
  • Ontario premier slams Donald Trump's decision to cease exports of N95 masks to Canada

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford has slammed United States President Donald Trump's decision to cease exports of manufacturing giant 3M's N95 face masks to Canada. "I just can't stress how disappointed I am at President Trump for making this decision," Ford said at Queen’s Park on Friday. Source
  • Relatives of the Kennedy family reported missing after canoe ride in Maryland

    World News CTV News
    Authorities were searching Friday for the daughter and a grandson of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend after a canoe they were paddling in the Chesapeake Bay didn't return to shore. Gov. Larry Hogan identified the missing relatives as Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, and McKean's 8-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean. Source