Suing a company’s employees

Sataur v. Starbucks Coffee Canada Inc.
Court of Appeal for Ontario
Docket: C64000
Before: Laskin, Miller and Paciocco JJ.A.
Date: 22 Dec 2017

Abigail Sataur pleaded that she was injured when a barista at a Starbucks store in Brampton poured scalding hot water on her hands. Through her Litigation Guardian, Ms. Sataur sued Starbucks, the barista (Jane Doe) and the manager of the store, Danielle Bovenberg, for negligence.

The motion judge held that “the general rule remains that employees are not liable for what they do within the scope of their authority and on behalf of their corporation”

The motion judge’s ruling conflates two separate concepts: the employer’s vicarious liability for its employees acting within the scope of their employment; and employees’ personal liability for their own negligence while acting within the scope of their employment. Under Canadian law the two concepts can live together.

The appeal was allowed, the order of the motion judge was set aside and the defendant’s motion to strike the Statement of Claim against the two individual defendants was dismissed.

The appellant is entitled to her costs of the appeal in the agreed upon amount of $15,000 all inclusive. The parties also agree that the successful party before the motion judge—the appellant—is entitled to the costs of the motion in the amount of $2,500, all inclusive.

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