Case Summary: Sound Stage Entertainment Inc. v Burns

The Contributory Negligence Act of Saskatchewan only provides for apportioning damages among co-tort-feasors in instances of negligence, and does not enable negligent defendants to seek contribution and indemnity from defendants liable for intentional or other torts.

Sound Stage Entertainment Inc. v Burns, 2019 SKCA 18, per Richards, C.J.S.


Two men were shot and injured at a Regina nightclub. The shooter was arrested and charged with a number of criminal offences. The victims commenced an action against the nightclub and its owner claiming that they had been negligent by creating a dangerous and hazardous environment by failing to have adequate security measures.

The appellants were sued in negligence, and tried to rely on the Contributory Negligence Act, RSS 1978, c C-31 [the "Act"], to commence a third party claim for contribution or indemnity against an alleged intentional tort-feasor. At trial, this application was refused as they tried to apportion negligence to the shooter, without alleging that he himself had been negligent.

The issue on appeal was whether the Act allowed for apportionment of damages for all tortious acts, or whether it was limited solely to incidences of negligence.

HELD: Appeal dismissed; trial decision upheld.

The Court held that the Contributory Negligence Act, allowed for the apportionment of liability among tort-feasors for negligence alone.

The Court held that common law jurisprudence clearly established that apportionment of fault was intended for contributory negligence claims. Section 3 of the Act provided for apportionment of damages in circumstances where those damages were caused by negligent acts. The Court held that the ordinary meaning of the words in the Act are concerned with negligence, and negligence alone. The Court noted that an earlier case, Chernesky v Armadale Publishers Limited, 1974 CanLII 984, held that section 3 of the Act did not allow a defendant sued for libel to seek contribution or indemnity from a party jointly at fault. This section was only intended to apply to allegations of negligence. The appellant sought reconsideration of this decision as they claimed this section did not apply to the factual circumstance of an intentional tort-feasor. It was noted that a number of Uniform Law Conferences have provided a number of draft legislative suggestions, all of which clearly outlined that contribution or apportionment only applied in circumstances of negligence. The...

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