Précis: The Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded judgment for damages arising from negligent operation of two jet skis rented from the plaintiff.
Facts: The defendants rented two jetskis from the plaintiff’s business in July 2016. The rental period was for 90 minutes around the waters off Turkey Point, Ontario. Approximately halfway into the rental period, the defendants collided causing damage to the jetski operated by the defendant Mehr. When the defendants returned the jetskis, the Mehr jetski had a “football sized hole” in its front. Mehr was charged with operation of a vessel in a careless manner contrary to the small vessel regs under the Canada Shipping Act, pleading guilty and paying the $340.00 fine. At trial, Mehr argued that since he did not remember being told he would be liable for damages to the jet skis, and because that was not in writing, it would be reasonable for him to assume damage to the jetskis would be covered by the plaintiff’s insurance.
Decision: The defendants are jointly and severally liable to the plaintiff for the damages suffered as a result of their negligence.
Held: the judge relied on common law of bailment to hold that absent contractual terms to the contrary a bailee is responsible for chattel property received from the bailor, with the onus on the bailee to prove any damage is not due to his negligence. The onus was not discharged in this case.