The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has found that the City of Toronto was not negligent in its operation of a public archery range, at which one friend catastrophically injured another in a bizarre plan to retrieve arrows.
The two friends went on a picnic during the fall of 2000 and ended up playing a casual game of archery at an open, public archery operated by the City of Toronto.
After having trouble locating arrows they had shot that had missed their targets, the two concocted a plan whereby one of them would shoot an arrow over the top of the target while another stood down range to see where the arrow would land. In this way, they would find their lost arrows.
In conducting this experiment, Patryk Stankiewicz accidentally shot an arrow that hit Wieslaw Galka, who was standing downward of the target, in the eye and lodged in his brain. Galka sued Stankiewicz and the City of Toronto for $3 million after suffering partial deafness, blindness, reduced mobility and profound psychiatric needs.
The archery range had one entrance, near which a sign was posted. Among other things, the sign said:
• "1. All persons to be clear of range before shooting can commence."
• "3. Arrows must be aimed and released at Target (butts) only."
The plaintiff, who acknowledged he was mostly at fault, basically argued the city was negligent because even though it had posted these rules, it was aware of the fact that people broke these rules all the time. Since the city did nothing to stop the rules from being broken, it must have reasonably foreseen that a stray arrow would hit someone.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Deena Baltman said the argument had "superficial appeal," but nevertheless did not "bear up under closer scrutiny."
Baltman noted in her judgment that the lawyer for the city "admitted seeing archers shooting while players at adjacent butts (targets) were on the field, [but] she never witnessed - or heard of - archers shooting while another archer was down range of the very same butt. The reason for that is likely because the danger is so obvious that no right thinking person would attempt it."
Baltman thus concluded: "The incident in question was so unpredictable that the City could not have been expected to foresee or prevent it."