University faces lawsuit over weight machine malfunction

Former Queen’s Law student Brittany Finn seeking half a million in damages 

The Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) gym.
Journal File Photo

A former Queen’s Law student is seeking $500,000 in damages after a weight machine in the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) malfunctioned, causing serious injuries, according to court documents obtained by The Journal.

In an ongoing lawsuit against the University, Brittany Finn claimed Queen’s was negligent for failing to regularly inspect and maintain the equipment. Finn also claimed the University employed individuals who “failed to take any steps” to ensure the safety of the equipment. 

Queen’s has denied all allegations made by Finn.

According to Finn’s statement of claim, in April 2014, she was using a weight machine in the ARC when “suddenly and without warning” a band snapped and a metal piece of the weight machine swung and hit her in the side of the face.

In her 2016 court filing, she claimed the incident caused “sustained serious and permanent injuries.” Finn sustained injuries to her neck, back, face and jaw as a result of the incident. 

Her claim also said she will continue to undergo hospitalization, therapy, rehabilitation and other forms of medical treatment.

In its statement of defence, Queen’s claimed that if Finn did sustain injuries, they were a result of her failing to “keep a proper look out for her own safety.”

Queen’s maintained Finn was using the weight machine incorrectly and her  observational ability was impaired “due to her physical and mental condition.”

According to the University, when the incident took place, the maintenance and inspection of the ARC’s equipment was contracted out to a third party, BJ Ward. 

The University claimed that it was “reasonable to entrust” the maintenance of the exercise equipment to Ward. They also stated that Ward was “competent and qualified.”

However, in July 2016, Queen’s moved to add its third party contractors, BJ Ward and Bernie Burns, to the lawsuit alleging liability on their part for Finn’s injuries. 

In Queen’s original third party claim, they asserted their contract with Ward stated he “must” keep all fitness equipment in the ARC safe and in proper working order.

In an amended third party claim, Queen’s changed the word “must” to “would.” 

In his defence, Ward claimed his contract with Queen’s began and ended before Finn’s injuries took place, arguing “no formal renewal of this agreement was ever signed.”

Additionally, Ward denied any liability for Finn’s accident, claiming she “failed to follow instructions” and applied “excessive or unusual force” while using the equipment.

Ward claimed the equipment’s manufacturer was also liable for the incident.

Finn will continue to seek damages while the case remains ongoing in Toronto courts.

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