Personal Injury

Olympic facility operator faces little risk in luge deaths

Operators of parks that might lure individuals to danger after-hours could be exposed to liability if proper security measures aren’t in place, says Toronto critical injury lawyer Patrick Brown.

But the operator of the Alberta luge track where twin 17-year-old brothers died may not be at risk of a lawsuit, Brown says.

“The brothers had worked there, they had knowledge of the park and perhaps the security system,” says Brown, a partner with McLeish Orlando LLP.

“So there’s a strong likelihood they’d have a very difficult case if the park had a reasonable security system in place.”

The law in Alberta also places a heavier onus on someone who is a trespasser, rather than people who encounter danger after entering an unsecured area, Brown adds.

Jordan and Evan Caldwell were killed and six other teenage boys were injured — one critically — after their sled crashed into a gate separating the luge and bobsled tracks on Feb. 6. The twin brothers had worked as "Hill Ambassadors'' at the Olympic training facility in Calgary last winter, according to the Canadian Press.

WinSport President and CEO Barry Heck told media that "robust security measures'' are employed to keep people out. An investigation will ultimately reveal how the teenagers were able to gain entry, the Canadian Press reports.

Brown says toboggan-related lawsuits are relatively rare. He references a 1986 case, Hewitt v. Etobicoke, in which the City of Toronto was found liable after it allowed people to access an unlit ski hill with toboggans on New Year's Eve.

One person riding a toboggan ran into one of the built-in light standards that was not that visible and sustained serious injuries, Brown writes on his blog.

However, that case was different from the Alberta luge incident, he says, because in Toronto, access to the ski hill was not controlled.

If, for example, a ski resort didn’t control access and late-night revellers were goofing around on a hill and were seriously injured, it could also face liability, Brown tells

“If they did absolutely nothing to try to monitor their hill after hours, that could give rise to some exposure,” Brown says. “But most facilities have procedures in place to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

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