The Plaintiff rented a property from the Defendant in Harrietsfield, Nova Scotia. After moving into the property, the Plaintiff noticed multiple deficiencies with the property. At one point, shortly after moving in, she noticed a white barrel located near the entry door to the barn located on the property. The barrel had a warning label on it stating there were dangerous chemicals contained therein.
The Plaintiff asked the Defendant to move the barrel given her concern about the warning label. It was unclear from the Plaintiff and Defendant’s testimony whether this was in fact asked of the Defendant. At some point a few days after this request, the barrel had not been moved and the Plaintiff’s hand hit the white barrel when she was leaving the barn. She continued out of the barn but quickly realized she was no longer able to see. She lost her vision for a period of time and also suffered burns to her face due to coming in contact with the chemicals. Fortunately, her vision returned, although her left eye continues to be somewhat blurry.
The Honourable Justice Denise M. Boudreau decided in this case that the Defendant was not guilty of breaching the standard of care as in this instance there was no duty of care owed to the Plaintiff. There was no evidence as to how the dangerous chemicals were placed in the barn. Both the Plaintiff and the Defendant denied putting the chemicals there and both denied ever using the product.
Furthermore, the court found that generally speaking, a tenant has exclusive possessory rights over a leased premises and therefore is the sole occupier with some exceptions. The exceptions did not apply to this particular fact scenario; therefore, no duty of care was owed to the Plaintiff by the Defendant landlord.
Find out more about the court’s decision at the link: https://www.canlii.org/en/ns/nssc/doc/2022/2022nssc55/2022nssc55.html