Not content with having constitutional principles based on margarine (see below), Canadian case law (and legal education) may now include principles of tort law based on the zamboni! Or “ice resurfacer”, if you want to protect the Zamboni trademark:

The machine is not “a Zamboni,” it is a ZAMBONI ice resurfacing machine. The name must be capitalized and spelled correctly and should never even remotely be used in a generic sense. Never use “Zamboni” as a verb or in the plural, such as “Zambonis.”

Anyway. A zamboni (oops!) is a machine that resurfaces the ice, most notably at hockey games. It’s a popular Canadian (and US) cultural reference; other brands of ice resurfacers are available, of course. The Canadian-based Resurfice Corporation (look at that clever name – but it’s no Zamboni ; ) ), one of the biggest zamboni-making companies (oops!), was one of the parties in today’s case.

Resurfice Corp v Hanke (link to full text). The sad tale of Mr. Hanke, who was injured after filling the gas tank with hot water (which, unfortunately for him caused the gas to shoot up, vaporise and make contact with a heater), is what lies behind this dispute The unanimous Supreme Court disagreed that ‘policy matters’ (such as the relative financial strengths of the parties) were relevant to discussing the foreseeability of the incident, and reasserted the traditional preference for the “but for” test in causation (but for the plaintiff’s actions in putting the hose in the wrong tank, there would have been no accident). The full opinion is short and very well structured, and therefore worth reading. And Hanke doesn’t get his new trial.

Note 1: Why the title to this post? Toronto band Moxy Fruvous recorded a track (on their demo tape and first album) called “King of Spain” (Video | Wikipedia entry | Lyrics), including the line “Now the Leafs call me up to drive the Zamboni”. They would change “Leafs” to a local team in live performances.

Note 2: Margarine Reference (seminal case on federal powers) | UL Canada v Quebec (2005 case) | CBC summary of the history of margarine in Canada. In summary, margarine used to be illegal in Canada, then it was permissible but all the provinces required it to be ‘not yellow’ (apart from Newfoundland which got a special section in its accession/constitution allowing the manufacture/sale to continue!), and while most provinces have opened up the gates of (if not heaven, sandwich bars), Quebec continues to restrict the industry).