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

  • Trump says he'll 'strongly consider' Pelosi offer to testify in impeachment inquiry

    World News CBC News
    President Donald Trump suggested Monday he might be willing to offer written testimony in the House impeachment inquiry over whether he pressured Ukraine's president to investigate Joe Biden and his son while withholding aid to the country. Source
  • U.S. officials knew of Ukraine's Trump anxiety: AP

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Despite his denials, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was feeling pressure from the Trump administration to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden before his July phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump that has led to impeachment hearings. Source
  • Russia returns three seized ships to Ukraine

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- Three Ukrainian naval ships that were seized by Russia nearly a year ago have been returned, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Monday. The two gunboats and a tug were taken by the Russian coast guard on Nov. Source
  • Education minister offers mediator amid escalating tensions with teachers unions

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Education Minister Stephen Lecce wants to bring in a mediator to help further negotiations with Ontario's teachers, as talks continue to stall and unions threaten job action. The offer was made amid escalating tensions with teachers unions, who have been without a contract since the beginning of the school year. Source
  • Samoa officials declare emergency in measles outbreak that has killed 6

    World News CBC News
    Samoa has closed all its schools, banned children from public gatherings and mandated that everybody get vaccinated after declaring an emergency due to a measles outbreak that has so far killed six people. For the past three weeks, the Pacific island nation of 200,000 people has been in the grip of a measles epidemic that has been exacerbated by low immunization rates. Source
  • Long, cold, messy winter that's 'more frozen than thawed' ahead for most of Canada

    Canada News CBC News
    It's going to be a long, cold and messy winter across much of Canada, according to the seasonal forecast released Monday by the Weather Network. November has already brought historically early snowfall in southern Ontario and power outages in the Prairies, setting what chief meteorologist Chris Scott said will be a trend throughout the winter. Source
  • Teen dead in French bridge collapse, search ongoing for the missing

    World News CBC News
    A 15-year-old girl has died and several people are likely missing after a bridge collapsed into a river in southwestern France on Monday, emergency services said. The 150-metre-long suspension bridge in Mirepoix-sur-Tarn, near Toulouse, collapsed as a transport vehicle, a car and possibly a van were crossing, the local prosecutor said. Source
  • Charges stayed after Quebec man waited too long for French trial in Edmonton

    Canada News CBC News
    Fraud charges against a Quebec man have been stayed after an Edmonton judge determined that his right to be tried in French within a reasonable period of time had not been upheld. Marc Vaillancourt wasn't aware of his right to a trial in French until one year into his court proceedings, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Vital Ouellette said in a written decision published Tuesday in French. Source
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Jordan's king to meet in Ottawa today

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets today in Ottawa with the king of Jordan. It marks King Abdullah II's fifth visit to Canada in his 20 years on the throne of the Middle Eastern country. The Prime Minister's Office says the two will discuss the partnership between Canada and Jordan, and efforts to promote diversity and counter violent extremism. Source
  • Trudeau, king of Jordan meet to talk refugee issues, security concerns

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets today in Ottawa with the king of Jordan. It marks King Abdullah II's fifth visit to Canada in his 20 years on the throne of the Middle Eastern country. The Prime Minister's Office says the two will discuss the partnership between Canada and Jordan, and efforts to promote diversity and counter violent extremism. Source