In Sataur v. Starbucks Coffee Canada Inc., 2017 ONCA 1017, the plaintiff alleged that a Starbucks barista poured scalding water on the plaintiff’s hands. The plaintiff sued Starbucks, and also brought claims against the barista and the Starbucks store manager personally. The plaintiff alleged that the barista and the store manager owed the plaintiff a duty of care and that each was personally liable to the plaintiff for breaching those duties.
Starbucks brought a motion to strike the plaintiff’s claims against the barista and store manager on the basis that, among others, the plaintiff could not claim against them personally. The motion judge agreed, stating that employees are not liable for acts within the scope of their authority and done on behalf of their corporation. The motion judge struck the plaintiff’s claims against the barista and store manager.
The plaintiff appealed. The Court of Appeal, citing the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in London Drugs Ltd. v. Kuehne & Nagel International Ltd.,  3 S.C.R. 299, stated that “a plaintiff has the right to sue the person who was negligent, regardless of whether the employee was working for someone else or not.” The Court of Appeal found that the plaintiff had pleaded specific acts of negligence against the barista and store manager for which each could be personally liable – i.e. by the barista, the pouring of hot water; and by the store manager, the failure to properly supervise the barista. The Court of Appeal overturned the motion judge’s order and dismissed Starbucks’ motion to strike.
The lawyers at Gilbertson Davis LLP have experience with both advancing and defending negligence claims against corporations and corporate employees, including corporate officers. Please contact us to arrange an initial consultation.