By Adrian Morrow
A former bartender is suing Ryerson after an accident on campus that cost him his job.
Charles Hoffman, a former employee of the Imperial Pub on Dundas Street, said that he slipped and fell in the area surrounding Lake Devo on Jan. 3. Since then, he’s been unable to work.
“I’m 35 and I’ve worked every day since I was 17,” said Hoffman. “I’ve been off work for four months.”
The fall resulted in a pinched nerve and damage in his spinal column, he said. Hoffman has to meet with a doctor and believes he may need surgery.
He might never be able to return to work, he said. He says he spiraled into depression ever since the incident, and the pain from his injuries has made it difficult to sleep.
He has retained a lawyer and plans to a file suit against the university.
Neither he nor his lawyer could comment on the case and Hoffman said he was afraid anything he said could be used by Ryerson to counter-sue.
He is currently living off of half his old wages, he said. Hoffman thinks he has a good chance of winning. Julia Hanigsberg, Ryerson’s general counsel, said she didn’t know enough about the case to comment.
She wasn’t sure if anything similar had happened at Ryerson before.
Once Ryerson is served with the suit, the school will pass it off to its insurance company, the Canadian Universities Reciprocal Insurance Exchange (CURIE).
CURIE will retain a lawyer and try to negotiate an end to the action. If an agreement can’t be reached, the case will go to court.
Ryerson is covered for $20 million under CURIE, which insures almost every aspect of the school.
The case would hinge on numerous factors, including whether the school was diligent in keeping the campus free of hazards and the extent of Hoffman’s injuries.
“You have a duty to people who come on your campus to make sure that they’re safe,” said Karen Zvulony, a trial lawyer who deals with personal injury suits.
A slip and fall claim could depend on whether snow and ice was being regularly removed from the area, for instance.
The size of any settlement in such a case depends on how badly hurt someone is, she said. Someone whose injuries prevent them from working would win a larger settlement than someone who could still work.
In a case at York University a student who slipped on an icy walkway and badly broke her arm won a large settlement from the school as her injury impeded her ability to do her chosen job, said Zvulony.
There are more than 10 lawsuits currently filed against Ryerson. Most of them are construction liens, but two of them are personal injury based.