Oddy v. Waterway Partnership Equities Inc.

In Personal Injury and Maritime Law on (Updated )

Précis: The British Columbia Supreme Court dismissed an action against the owner of a rented houseboat for personal injuries suffered by a renter when a mooring stake broke loose under strain and hit the plaintiff.

Facts: The defendant was engaged in the business of houseboat rentals on Shuswap Lake, British Columbia. The plaintiff and her party rented one of the defendant’s houseboats for a 5-day period. The plaintiff’s party was instructed by the defendant to moor the houseboat at night by driving its bow onto the beach and then by attaching mooring lines from either side of the stern of the houseboat to “beaching stakes” driven deep into the beach. Each mooring line was to be at about a 45-degree angle away from the sides of the vessel. On the first night the houseboat was moored as instructed but the following morning it was discovered that port mooring line had become loose. The plaintiff approached the helm of the vessel intending to start the engines to reposition the vessel. Suddenly, the starboard beaching stake pulled loose and, due to the tension on the line, catapulted towards the vessel. The beaching stake shattered the wind screen and struck the plaintiff on her left side causing significant injuries. The plaintiff sued the defendant in negligence.

Decision: Action dismissed.

Held: The plaintiff alleges that the defendant failed to take reasonable care to equip the vessel with the appropriate mooring line. More specifically, the plaintiff says that the line was too elastic. However, the line in issue was a double braided nylon line that is widely used for mooring lines and has been used by the defendant without incident since 2010. The defendant purchased the line from a reputable dealer and there is no evidence the defendant knew or ought to have known the line was not suitable for the purpose. The defendant did not breach the duty of care owed to the plaintiff. Additionally, even if there had been a breach of duty, the damages were not reasonably foreseeable and are therefore too remote.