Could Kijji be found liable for the wrongful death of Tim Bosma?
The question is not trivial as enormous numbers of people, previously unknown to each other, now meet online to trade goods, services or find a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
The question revolves around the concept of negligence. Basically the law imposes liability if someone was careless in a situation where they ought to have known their carelessness could cause harm and harm occurred. Now that's a mouthful of a sentence but it breaks down easily enough.
Did Kijji know that its web trading site could put someone in harms way? The answer there seems a pretty clear yes. Are Kijji users people who Kijji ought to know could be affected by Kijji being careless? Again a pretty clear yes. Was Tim Bosma and his family harmed? Again a yes.
But here things become a bit more tricky. Was Kijji careless and if so did that carelessness cause Mr Bosma's harm?
Kijji has a series of safety tips on its site. One provides:
"•When buying or selling, you should meet in-person to see the product and exchange funds. Meet in a public place with many people around, such as a coffee shop. "
Is this enough? Was Kijji careless at all? After all Kijji does not say they screen anyone and the service is free for most users. In a way Kijji is merely a bulletin board, similar to those used in rural grocers for a place to buy and sell. Absent some special cause to be alarmed Kijji likely acted reasonably enough.