Sunken Sprinkler Head Can't Trip Up Municipal Government Act Protections

Published date29 June 2022
Subject MatterGovernment, Public Sector, Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Government Contracts, Procurement & PPP, Trials & Appeals & Compensation
Law FirmCLC (Canadian Litigation Counsel)
AuthorMr Nabeel Peermohamed (Brownlee LLP)

In 2019 and 2020, our municipal litigation team successfully defended the City of Lethbridge against an Occupiers' Liability Act claim - and a subsequent appeal - by relying on provisions within the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

In Ellis v City of Lethbridge, 2019 ABPC 276, the City was sued after the plaintiff tripped over a sunken sprinkler head and injured her ankle in the beer garden at a 2017 dragon boat festival. The festival was held at a City park that contains up to an estimated 2,000 sprinkler heads. These sprinklers are designed to allow for some movement into the ground for safety.

Although the presence of the sunken sprinkler head in the beer garden caused the trial judge to find that the city had breached the Occupiers' Liability Act, the municipality was found not liable under s. 530 of the MGA. The fact that the City employed a system of inspection and maintenance motivated by budgetary concerns and policy decisions qualified it for protection under that section.

The plaintiff filed an appeal (Ellis v City of Lethbridge, 2020 ABQB 783), but it was dismissed as the Court found the trial made no reversible error.


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