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Horsley v. MacLaren

 Ontario Court of Appeal
11 D.L.R. 3d 277 (1970)


MacLaren (defendant) was the owner and operator of a boat. After an afternoon of drinking, MacLaren invited several friends—including Matthews and Horsley—out on his boat on Lake Ontario. Through no fault of MacLaren, Matthews fell overboard into the icy water, which caused him to have a heart attack and die. MacLaren, not knowing whether Matthews was still alive, backed his boat up to rescue Matthews, which was contended to be contrary to standard boat rescue procedures, which would entail a bow-on maneuver instead. When MacLaren’s attempt did not work, Horsley and another passenger jumped into the water to save Matthews. The evidence showed that Horsley must have died from shock almost immediately upon his immersion in the intensely cold water. MacLaren did not contest that a bow-on maneuver was the correct rescue procedure but testified that in the moment of the emergency, he did what he thought would be most effective. Horsley’s survivors (plaintiffs) brought a wrongful-death action against MacLaren. The trial court ruled for the survivors and awarded damages for Horsley’s wrongful death. MacLaren appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Jessup, J.)

Concurrence (Schroeder, J.)

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