Smoker to pay property damages

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Careless smoking has come back to burn a Surrey tenant, who now owes more than $200,000 in property damages.

The B.C. Supreme Court has found smoker Devin Kendall liable for negligence with regards to a fire that occurred in his rented basement bedroom shortly after midnight on August 17, 2009.

Kendall claimed that he did not smoke in his suite over the course of the previous day, August 16, and that he was last in his bedroom in the early to mid afternoon of that day.

However, Justice Deborah Kloegman noted in her decision posted online on December 17 that the tenant’s sworn evidence contained contradictions that were “blatant and without satisfactory explanation”. She wrote that she can only infer Kendall was “trying to cover up his responsibility for the fire”.

“Taking the evidence as a whole, I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that it was more likely than not that this fire was caused by inappropriately discarded smoking materials for which the defendant is fully liable,” Kloegman stated.

The judge decided the case based on affidavits submitted to the court, finding no need for the matter to go to trial. She ruled that landlord Amarjit Singh Mann is entitled to property damages of $216,061.51.

The tenant presented evidence from two experts, but Kloegman gave weight to the opinion of Mann’s expert. The landlord’s expert maintained that the only possible cause of the fire was the “ignition of a smouldering fire in either the bedding or clothes on the floor space at the southeast corner, or any other medium capable of supporting smouldering, due to improperly discarded smoking materials”.

“Although no smoking materials were found within the area of origin, given the extent of the fire damage and combustible nature of smoking materials, they could have been destroyed in the fire,” Kloegman ruled. “Given the absence of a credible ignition source and the presence of discarded smoking materials in the room, inappropriate disposal of smoking materials is the only credible, and the probable, cause of the fire.”

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