Cuppen v. Queen Charlotte Lodge Ltd. et al

In Personal Injury and Maritime Law on (Updated )

The Plaintiff was a guest at the Defendant’s fishing lodge. He was provided with a fishing boat by the Defendant and was injured while operating the boat. The trial Judge found that the boat veered suddenly and dramatically through no fault on the part of the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff was thrown against the starboard side of the boat and suffered a serious break to his right femur. The trial Judge found that the accident was caused by a defect in the boat but was not able to determine the particular defect and was therefore not able to conclude that the Defendant was negligent in equipping the boat with a defective steering system. The trial Judge further found, however, that a number of complaints had been made to the Defendant about the steering systems by previous guests and held that the Defendant was liable for failing to properly warn the Plaintiff about possible problems with the steering and for failing to take steps to address the complaints. A further issue in the case was whether the applicable limitation of liability was that contained in Part 3 of the Marine Liability Act (Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims) or Part 4 of the Marine Liability Act (Carriage of Passengers). The trial Judge held that the limitation in Part 4 only applied where there was a contract of carriage and that in this case there was no such contract, the Defendant having merely provided the Plaintiff with a boat to fish. Accordingly, the applicable limitation was $1 million as provided in Part 3 of the Marine Liability Act. In result, the Plaintiff was awarded damages of an amount in excess of $300,000. An appeal by the Defendant to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia was dismissed on the grounds that the arguments on appeal related primarily to questions of fact.