Will the result of the controversial decision in Paton Estate v. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation1 (“OLGC”) impose a duty of care on the OLGC similar to the “commercial host”
duty of care that is owed by establishments serving alcohol?
The case arises out of the actions of a solicitor’s clerk, who due to a chronic gambling problem, stole millions of dollars from the Paton Estate (the “Estate”) and other clients of the solicitor’s firm by forging documents, and selling Estate assets. Over a fourteen month period, she lost millions belonging to the Estate by playing at an OLGC casino while misrepresenting herself as a lawyer. The causes of action against the OLGC included unjust enrichment, negligence and knowing receipt of trust funds for failure to scrutinize the source of the clerk’s money and permitting a compulsive gambler to continue gambling at its casinos.
The motion court judge struck the statement of claim on the grounds that the clerk misrepresenting herself as a lawyer to the operators of the OLGC’s casinos did not lead to the conclusion that the OLGC had notice she was gambling with trust funds obtained by fraud. In addition, the judge found that the OLGC had valid reasons for retaining money that it had received, since it did not owe a duty of care to the clerk as a problem gambler, and accordingly did not act negligently. Consequently, the claim was struck on the basis that it did not allege a reasonable cause of action and that it was “plain and obvious” the lawsuit would have no chance of success.
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