G.T.-J. et al. v. Griffiths et al., (1999) 241 N.R. 201 (SCC)

JudgeL'Heureux-Dubé, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache and Binnie, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateJune 17, 1999
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1999), 241 N.R. 201 (SCC);[1999] 9 WWR 1;[1999] CarswellBC 1262;241 NR 201;1999 CanLII 693 (SCC);124 BCAC 161;[1999] 2 SCR 570;44 CCEL (2d) 169;174 DLR (4th) 71;[1999] SCJ No 36 (QL);46 CCLT (2d) 49;203 WAC 161;63 BCLR (3d) 1

G.T.-J. v. Griffiths (1999), 241 N.R. 201 (SCC)

MLB Headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

....................

Temp. Cite: [1999] N.R. TBEd. JN.023

R.C.J. and J.M.S. (appellants) v. Boys' and Girls' Club of Vernon and Harry Charles Griffiths (respondents) and The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Wunnumin Lake First Nation (interveners)

(26041)

Indexed As: G.T.-J. et al. v. Griffiths et al.

Supreme Court of Canada

L'Heureux-Dubé, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache and Binnie, JJ.

June 17, 1999.

Summary:

A Boy's and Girl's Club, a nonprofit or­ganization, provided recreational facilities for children. Griffiths, the Club's program direc­tor, sexually assaulted two children, aged 13 and 11, who frequented the facility. All but one of the assaults took place away from the facility and outside working hours. The victims and their mother sued Griffiths and the Club. The trial judge allowed the action against Griffiths. The trial judge found that the Club was vicariously liable. The Club appealed.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal, Newbury, J.A., dissenting in part, in a de­cision reported 89 B.C.A.C. 126; 145 W.A.C. 126, allowed the Club's appeal and set aside the judgment against it. The victims appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada, McLachlin, L'Heureux-Dubé and Bastarache, JJ., dis­sent­ing, dismissed the appeal. The Club was not vicariously liable. However, the court remitted the matter to the trial judge for a determination of whether the Club was liable under a fault-based cause of action.

Master and Servant - Topic 3679

Liability of master for acts of servant - Torts - Acts in course of employment - Sexual abuse - A nonprofit organization provided a recreational facility for children - Griffiths, the organization's program director, inter alia, organized, coordinated and supervised recreational activities and encouraged children to participate - He was expected to develop a "rapport" with children using the facility - Griffiths sexually assaulted two children who fre­quented the facility - All but one of the assaults took place away from the facility and outside working hours - The victims came from an unsettled home and were very vulnerable - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the organization was not vicariously liable for Griffiths' conduct - The opportunity that the organization afforded Griffiths to abuse whatever power he had was slight - The abuse only became possible when Griffiths subverted the public nature of the organization's ac­tivities - The progress from the Club's program to the sexual assaults was a chain with multiple links, none of which could be characterized as an inevitable or natural "outgrowth" of its predecessor - See para­graphs 1 to 58.

Master and Servant - Topic 3703

Liability of master for acts of servant - Torts - Wilful acts - Sexual abuse - [See Master and Servant - Topic 3679 ].

Torts - Topic 2530

Vicarious liability - Master and servant - Employer - Liability for acts of employees - Sexual abuse - [See Master and Ser­vant - Topic 3679 ].

Torts - Topic 2649

Vicarious liability - Particular persons - Nonprofit organizations - [See Master and Servant - Topic 3679 ].

Torts - Topic 2649

Vicarious liability - Particular persons - Nonprofit organizations - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "[t]he 'enter­prise risk' rationale holds the employer vicariously responsible because, however innocently, it introduced the seeds of the potential problem into the community, or aggravated the risks that were already there, but only if its enterprise materially increased the risk of the harm that hap­pened. Once materiality is established under the 'strong connection' test, the imposition of no-fault liability is justified under the second phase of the analysis ... by policy considerations, including in particular: (a) Compensation; and (b) Deterrence." - However, while noting that there was no exemption for nonprofit or­ganizations from vicarious liability, the court cautioned that the imposition of no-fault liability may not achieve the objec­tives of effective compensation and deterrence when dealing with nonprofit organizations rather than commercial or­ganizations - See paragraphs 39 to 49.

Cases Noticed:

P.A.B. v. Children's Foundation et al. (1999), 241 N.R. 266 (S.C.C.), dist. [para. 1].

P.A.B. v. Curry - see P.A.B. v. Children's Foundation et al.

Boothman v. Canada, [1993] 3 F.C. 381; 63 F.T.R. 48 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 16].

Canada v. Levy Brothers Co., [1961] S.C.R. 189, refd to. [para. 16].

E.D.G. v. Hammer et al., [1998] B.C.T.C. Uned. 974 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 17].

Q. v. Minto Management Ltd. (1985), 15 D.L.R.(4th) 581 (Ont. H.C.), affd. (1986), 34 D.L.R.(4th) 767 (Ont. C.A.), refd to. [para. 18].

Goodwin v. Commission scolaire Laurenval, [1991] R.R.A. 673; 8 C.C.L.T.(2d) 267 (Que. S.C.), refd to. [para. 19].

Boudreau v. Jacob et al. (1998), 204 N.B.R.(2d) 254; 520 A.P.R. 254; 166 D.L.R.(4th) 125 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 21].

Barrett v. Ship Arcadia (1977), 76 D.L.R.(3d) 535 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 22].

Boykin v. District of Columbia (1984), 484 A.2d 560 (D.C.C.A.), refd to. [para. 24].

Lourim v. Swensen (1997), 936 P.2d 1011 (Or. Ct. App.), refd to. [para. 24].

Lloyd v. Grace, Smith & Co., [1912] A.C. 176 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 25].

Lockhart v. Canadian Pacific Railway Co., [1941] S.C.R. 278, refd to. [para. 25].

W.W. Sales Ltd. v. Edmonton (City), [1942] S.C.R. 467, refd to. [para. 25].

McDonald v. Mombourquette et al. (1996), 152 N.S.R.(2d) 109; 442 A.P.R. 109 (C.A.), leave to appeal refused [1997] 2 S.C.R. xi; 222 N.R. 80; 164 N.S.R.(2d) 239; 491 A.P.R. 239, refd to. [paras. 26, 70].

Destefano v. Grabrian (1988), 763 P.2d 275 (Colo. Ct. App.), refd to. [para. 26].

Tichenor v. Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans (1994), 32 F.3d 953 (5th Cir. Ct. App.), refd to. [para. 26].

Milla v. Tamayo (1986), 232 Cal. Rptr. 685 (Ct. App.), refd to. [para. 26].

Lockhart v. Canadian Pacific Railway Co., [1942] A.C. 591 (P.C.), refd to. [para. 27].

Big Brother/Big Sister of Metro Atlanta Inc. v. Terrell (1987), 359 S.E.2d 241 (Ga. Ct. App.), refd to. [para. 28].

Rabon v. Guardsmark Inc. (1978), 571 F.2d 1277 (4th Cir.), refd to. [para. 28].

Webb by Harris v. Jewel Cos. Inc. (1985), 485 N.E.2d 409 (Ill. Ct. App.), refd to. [para. 28].

Doe v. St. Joseph Inc. (Village) (1992), 415 S.E.2d 56 (Ga. Ct. App.), refd to. [para. 28].

Noto v. St. Vincents' Hospital and Medical Centre of New York (1988), 537 N.Y.S.2d 446 (Sup. Ct.), refd to. [para. 28].

S.T. v. North Yorkshire County Council, [1999] I.R.L.R. 98, refd to. [para. 29].

C.A. et al. v. Critchley et al. (1998), 113 B.C.A.C. 248; 184 W.A.C. 248; 166 D.L.R.(4th) 475 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 30].

D.C.B. v. Boulianne, [1996] B.C.J. No. 2183 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 31].

Beadle et al. v. British Columbia et al., [1998] B.C.T.C. Uned. B37; 51 B.C.L.R.(3d) 1 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 32].

Blackwater et al. v. Plint et al., [1998] B.C.T.C. Uned. E76; 161 D.L.R.(4th) 538 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 33].

W.K. v. Pornbacher et al., [1997] B.C.T.C. Uned. 50; 32 B.C.L.R.(3d) 360 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 34].

Doe v. Samaritan Counseling Centre (1990), 791 P.2d 344 (Ak.), refd to. [para. 35].

M. (Mary) v. Los Angeles (City) (1991), 814 P.2d 1341 (Cal. Sup. Ct.), refd to. [para. 36].

R. (John) v. Oakland Unified School Dis­trict (1989), 769 P.2d 948 (Cal. Sup. Ct.), refd to. [para. 36].

London Drugs Ltd. v. Brassart and Vanwinkel, [1992] 3 S.C.R. 299; 143 N.R. 1; 18 B.C.A.C. 1; 31 W.A.C. 1; 97 D.L.R.(4th) 261, refd to. [para. 37].

London Drugs v. Kuehne & Nagle Inter­national Ltd. et al. - see London Drugs Ltd. v. Brassart and Vanwinkel.

Bradley Egg Farm Ltd. v. Clifford, [1943] 2 All E.R. 378 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 47].

Dodd v. Cook, [1956] O.R. 470 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 47].

Olinski v. Johnson (1997), 98 O.A.C. 69; 32 O.R.(3d) 653 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 47].

Armagas Ltd. v. Mundogas SA, [1986] 2 All E.R. 385 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 57].

P.A.B. v. Children's Foundation et al. (1997), 89 B.C.A.C. 93; 145 W.A.C. 93; 30 B.C.L.R.(3d) 1 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 60].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Atiyah, P.S., Vicarious Liability in the Law of Torts (1967), pp. 22 [para. 42]; 387 [para. 47].

Baty, T., Vicarious Liability (1916), p. 154 [para. 42].

Flannigan, Robert, The Liability Structure of Non-Profit Associations: Tort and Fiduciary Liability Assignments (1998), 77 Can. Bar Rev. 73, p. 90 [para. 40].

Fleming, John G., The Law of Torts (9th Ed. 1998), p. 409 [para. 39].

Fridman, Gerald Henry Louis, The Law of Torts in Canada (1990), vol. 2, pp. 315, 316 [para. 42].

Laski, Harold, The Basis of Vicarious Liability (1916), 26 Yale L.J. 105, p. 114 [para. 54].

Salmond and Heuston, R.F.V., The Law of Torts (21st Ed. 1996), p. 443 [para. 27].

Counsel:

Christopher R. Penty, for the appellants;

Gordon G. Hilliker and Julie D. Fisher, for the respondent, Boys' and Girls' Club of Vernon;

William J. Sammon, for the intervener, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops;

Susan M. Vella and Jonathan Eades, for the intervener, Wunnumin Lake First Nation.

Solicitors of Record:

Kendall, Penty & Co., Kelowna, B.C., for the appellants;

Watson, Goepel Maledy, Vancouver, B.C., for the respondent, Boys' and Girls' Club of Vernon;

Barnes, Sammon, Ottawa, Ontario, for the intervener, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops;

Goodman & Carr, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervener, Wunnumin Lake First Nation.

This appeal was heard on June 17, 1999, before L'Heureux-Dubé, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache and Binnie, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. The judg­ment of the court was delivered on June 17, 1999, in both official languages, and the following opinions were filed:

Binnie, J. (Cory, Iacobucci and Major, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 59;

McLachlin, J., dissenting (L'Heureux-Dubé and Bastarache, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 60 to 87.

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