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Wong v. Coffee Time

Wong v. Coffee Time

April, 30 2008

Richard Bogoroch and Heidi Brown had the honour of acting on behalf of a young man who was viciously assaulted late at night by several individuals inside a Coffee Time Donuts franchise in Toronto in March, 2001.


Wong v. Coffee Time

Richard Bogoroch and Heidi Brown had the honour of acting on behalf of a young man who was viciously assaulted late at night by several individuals inside a Coffee Time Donuts franchise in Toronto, on March 13, 2001. This Coffee Time was open for business 24 hours per day.

As a result of the assault, our client sustained multiple stab wounds resulting in life-threatening injuries. Our client was required to undergo multiple surgeries to repair extensive damage to his internal organs and has been left with numerous scars all over his body. In addition, he has been left with permanent deficits in his left hand and right foot.

Our firm sued the individuals who assaulted our client, all of whom were convicted of varying degrees of assault and battery offences contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada.

In addition, we also sued Coffee Time, both as franchisor and franchisee, arguing that Coffee Time breached its obligations under the Occupiers Liability Act for the following reasons:

  1. Coffee Time did not have reasonable and adequate security measures in place on March 13, 2001 and therefore failed to keep our client safe while he was on their premises;
  2. Had Coffee Time provided reasonable and adequate security measures, the attack on our client would, on the balance of probabilities, have been deterred and prevented;
  3. The attack of March 13, 2001 was reasonably foreseeable and Coffee Time should have been aware of the risk to its customers and guests.

The matter proceeded to a jury trial in April of 2008. The trial lasted approximately three weeks.

After hearing all the evidence, the jury found that the individual defendants were 75% at fault collectively. This finding was expected, as the law presumes that by virtue of their criminal convictions, the individual Defendants cannot argue that they were not responsible for the attack.

The real victory for our client was the jury’s finding that the franchisor was 14% at fault, and the franchisee was 11% at fault, for a total of 25% fault against the Coffee Time Defendants.

The jury concluded that the Coffee Time franchisor breached its obligations to the Plaintiff under the Occupiers Liability Act for the following reasons:

  1. it failed to review and monitor the franchisee’s operation of the business;
  2. it failed to provide direction to the franchisee regarding security measures and equipment; and
  3. it failed to provide direction for upgrades to security measures regarding safety of customers to adapt to the changing business environment of the franchisee.

The jury found the franchisee liable for the assault for failing to provide a structure that would give customers a sense of authority and oversight of the premises, and for failing to adhere to the requirements set out in the Operations Manual of the franchisor. Specifically, the jury found that the person who was behind the counter on the night of the assault was not provided with adequate directions to identify and deal with emergency situations, such as the one that led to the assault on our client by a number of assailants inside the store.

Most significant was that the jury found that “the staffing was not proportionate to the considerable risks inherent to a late night shift in a 24 hour operation,” thereby holding 24 hour establishments to a very high standard of care in light of the fact that the business is open at night.

The jury awarded damages to the Plaintiff in the amount of $330,079.00 plus costs.