Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In small claims court...

Ever since I went to visit the Small Claims Court back in January, I found a liking to these little cases. Granted, it's not Judge Judy, and reading a case is not as fun as watching the proceedings, but they nevertheless offer a glimpse into the issues of ordinary people. Had a bit of time today, so I decided to look up some of the latest cases. I just picked one that seemed interesting: Gaudreault c. Future Shop, because everyone knows Future Shop, and I wanted to see what the Gaudreault person had against the store.

Note: below is a summary of the decision, and not a complete translation.
Gaudreault v. Future Shop
Qc, Ca, Chicoutimi District
Judge: Jean-Yves Tremblay

The plaintiff demands the replacement of a 52-inch Samsung LNT TV, bought May 31, 2008, because the empolyee of the defandant has accidentally knocked the TV while loading the furniture (TV table?), thereby breaking it.

[Declaration of Gaudreault's wife, stating that the Future Shop employee was loading the TV with her husband]

[Contestation from the defendant, stating that the plaintiff was informed his car was too small, and was warned that the plaintiff would be responsible for any damages, but decided to transport the TV nevertheless. Physical damages are not covered by the Service Plan. The defendant also claims that it is impossible to determine when the damage has occurred, and the plaintiff has been warned of the risks.]

[Declaration of and employee of the defendant, stating that the TV has been wrapped in bubble wrap and then loaded in the plaintiff's car. The employee had remarked that the car was very small to transport a TV of that size.]

Proof revealed that the TV was very well wrapped. The plaintiff had also been offered the delivery service and the employees had warned the plaintiff the risks.

The Plaintiff's wife was in the car, and confirmed the loading maneuvers, but couldn't confirm that it was then the TV was broken. Moreover, the Plaintiff was part of the maneuvers, and even if that was when the damages occurred, he is the first to affirm that it was an accident.

Article 2803 states that "A person wishing to assert a right shall prove the facts on which his claim is based."


In the current case, it is impossible to determine when the damages occurred. Was it during the loading, the transport, the unloading, or the installation? Moreover, the Plaintiff had participated in the operations.


This case is quite typical, as lack of proof is one of the main reasons a claim gets dismissed. I can imagine such things can be quite frustrating. One one side, it's one of these lawsuits that happen when you do something you shouldn't. Bad things happen, and you want someone to pay for it. The guy shows up with a car that's too small, squeeze a valuable and potentially fragile article inside. It breaks, and the guy is trying to blame the store.

On the other hand, there's a guy who just spent a substantial amount of money getting a big TV, and doesn't even get to use it once. He hasn't been able to enjoy his TV, so of course he feels that the money has been wasted, and wants it back.

Well, apparently that's not gonna happen.

So the moral of the story is this: before you even start wondering whether you're right or wrong, make sure you can PROVE IT. And a busted TV doesn't prove anything.

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