Many a Slip Between a Cup and a Lip

Published on October 25, 2017

In the case MacKay v. Starbucks Corporation, 2017 ONCA 350, it was determined that Starbucks was an occupier of a portion of a city sidewalk leading into the Starbucks patio.  The Court noted that in order for an adjacent property owner to be an occupier, the adjacent property owner’s actions must constitute more than merely clearing adjacent public sidewalks of snow and ice, whether in compliance with municipal by-laws or otherwise.  In the MacKay v. Starbucks case, the area in question, though technically a municipal sidewalk, was used almost exclusively by customers of Starbucks.  The Court concluded that by constructing a small patio fence, guiding pedestrian traffic and maintaining the condition of the pathway by clearing, salting and sanding, Starbucks assumed legal control of that area of the sidewalk.  So, if you happen to fall and injure yourself while getting a coffee or pumpkin-spiced latte, do not automatically assume there is only one responsible party or defendant.  Many times, there is more than one defendant who can be potentially liable for purposes of a personal injury claim.