Still don't believe the world is inhabited by crazy people?
Listen to this:
Chad Rankin has a garage in Paisley Ontario and while he was working on a car his own car sat outside with the keys in the ignition. (He didn't think it would be stolen because, after all, this was Paisley, Ontario!)
Enter two teens who had been drinking and smoking marijuana when they trespassed on Chad Rankin’s property in Paisley, Ont., in July 2006.
One of the teens, then 16, decided to steal a Toyota Camry even though he had never driven before.
Superior Court Justice Johanne Morissette determined Rankin owed a duty of care because, among other things, people entrusted with motor vehicles “must assure themselves that the youth in their community are not able to take possession of such dangerous objects.”
The jury then found the injured teen and the defendants negligent, but laid the bulk of the blame — 37 per cent — on the garage owner. In doing so, jurors cited the fact that the car was unlocked, the key was in the vehicle, and that Rankin should have known there was a risk of theft. They also faulted him for the overall lack of security.
Last October, Ontario’s Court of Appeal refused to overturn the trial verdict, saying that Rankin did indeed owe J.J. a duty of care — although not for the reasons Morissette had stated. It also found the jury’s findings reasonable.
“On the face of things, the notion that an innocent party could owe a duty of care to someone who steals from him seems extravagant, but matters are not so simple,” Appeal Court Justice Grant Huscroft wrote for the panel. “It is well established that the duty of care operates independently of the illegal or immoral conduct of an injured party.”
In this novel case, the Appeal Court found ample evidence supported the conclusion of “foresee-ability” that a car might be stolen.
Rankin, Huscroft found, had abrogated his responsibility for securing the cars against theft by minors like J.J. and while a different jury might have parceled out the blame differently, its conclusions were not unreasonable. The court also ordered Rankin to pay J.J. $30,000 in legal costs.
It’s not clear when the Supreme Court will hear the case.