Jonas v. Elliott, 2020 ONSC 354

The plaintiff Jonas and the defendant Elliott were neighbours. In November 2014, the two were at a buck and doe party at a local facility owned by the defendant City of Stratford, and hosted by the defendant Goudy. Within a short time of their mutual attendance, Elliott saw his wife dancing with Jonas and proceeded to come up behind Jonas, grab his shoulder, twist him around and throw him to the ground. Jonas suffered a broken femur and required surgery. The defendant City of Stratford and Goudy sought summary judgment on the basis that they were not liable to the plaintiff because the loss was not reasonably foreseeable. Justice McArthur granted the summary judgment motion. His reasons focused on the “reasonable foreseeability of harm” and the case law on social host liability. In short, there was nothing occurring prior to the assault that should have alerted the successful defendants of the risk of an assault being reasonably foreseeable. Justice McArthur was critical of the plaintiff’s position, which was in essence an argument for strict liability on an occupier and a social host. The defendants’ success is also notable because it was admitted that there was not complete compliance with the municipal alcohol policy or social occasion permit.