12/02/2014 10:27 EST | Updated 02/01/2015 05:59 EST

Surrey School District Blamed For Boy's Fall From Roof

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The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling assigning 75 per cent of the blame to the Surrey School District for an accident in which a 12-year-old boy was injured after falling off the roof of Peace Arch Elementary School.

Owen Paquette was in grade 7 in March of 2008 when he and a friend climbed onto the roof from a cherry tree after school. The school's vice-principal heard the sound of someone on the roof and called out his open window, "Hey, get off the roof."

Paquette's friend was able to scramble down safely but Paquette suffered "significant injuries" after he lost his grip hanging from the roof and fell approximately seven metres.

Paquette's mother sued the school district and in January, Justice Neena Sharma found the district 75 per cent liable in negligence because it failed to prune or remove the tree when it knew young people had been using it to climb onto the roof.

Sharma assigned 25 per cent blame to the boy for doing something he knew to be unsafe.

In an unanimous decision the B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld Sharma's decision, noting the school district was aware of young people climbing onto the roof and had taken some preventative steps by trimming other trees.

The case in question dealt only with determining liability and the decision did not detail Paquette's injuries, nor did it determine compensation.


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