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Erik MagrakenThis Blog is authored by British Columbia ICBC injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken. Erik is a partner with the British Columbia personal injury law-firm MacIsaac & Company. He restricts his practice exclusively to plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on ICBC injury claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries. Please visit often for the latest developments in matters concerning BC personal injury claims and ICBC claims

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Posts Tagged ‘Police Pursuit Cases’

Vehicle Dealer Found at Fault For Crash By Thief By “Leaving a Truck Available to be Stolen”

September 13th, 2017

If you own a vehicle that is stolen and the thief injures others in a collision can you be liable?  According to a case released today by the BC Supreme Court, the answer is yes.

In today’s case (Provost v. Bolton) the Defendant stole a truck owned by Chevrolet Dealership. After stealing the vehicle a police pursuit occurred and several crashes arose.

There was no dispute that the thief was liable.  In an interesting development the Court went on to find that the dealership was liable as well and the police bore some liability for engaging in the pursuit.  In finding the dealership partly liable Mr. Justice Kelleher provided the following reasons:

[14]         At about 8:58 a.m. on April 24, 2012, Mr. Katerenchuk left an unlocked one-ton 2011 GMC Sierra K2500 pickup truck (the “Truck”) outside a detail bay at the dealership Dueck. The Truck had been sold and was to be detailed that morning in preparation for delivery to the purchaser.

[15]         The Truck was left outside the dealership detail bay by Mr. Katerenchuk with the keys in the ignition, the engine running, and the doors unlocked. The Truck was parked in an area open to public view. Anyone walking or driving along Terminal Avenue past the dealership could see the Truck, along with other vehicles on the lot, if they looked in that direction.

[16]         The dealership is not fenced in. It is an open area where people can walk around the vehicles…

[19]         The Truck remained parked outside, with the keys in the ignition, the engine running, and doors unlocked for about 40 minutes when the defendant, Mr. Bolton, got in the Truck and drove away…

[146]     Here, I find that it is reasonably foreseeable that a stolen vehicle would cause serious damage and injuries to the police and bystanders in the vicinity of where the police are attempting to recover the stolen vehicle from the thief.

[147]     The Dueck employees called and expected the police to quickly attend to recovering the stolen Truck. Moreover, Dueck authorized OnStar to activate the GPS tracking system in the stolen Truck for the purpose of assisting the police in locating the Truck so that it could be recover

[148]     The circumstances in this case differ from those in cases like Hollett and Spagnolo where the accidents did not occur during the theft.

[149]     I am satisfied that, in these circumstances, it was reasonably foreseeable that persons and property may be injured or damaged during the recovery of a vehicle by the police in the immediate aftermath of a theft…

[161]     In sum, Dueck had a duty to Constable Provost and Ms. Brundige and the Attorney General to secure the vehicle in its lot and Dueck breached this duty and this breach caused the injuries and damages.

In finding the police partly liable for engaging in the pursuit the Court noted as follows:

[188]     Here, I conclude that the breach of the standard of care by RCMP officers is on the part of Constable Whitney, Constable Lee and Corporal Waldron. All three officers engaged in a high speed pursuit of the truck in an urban area in the middle of the day. Moreover, they did not appropriately comply with an order to terminate the pursuit when it was made by Staff Sergeant Stark and repeated by Corporal Peters.

[189]     Constable Whitney heard the order to discontinue the pursuit. His duty was to deactivate his lights and sirens (which he did) and to stop the vehicle at the side of the road and state his location. He did not stop and do that. Instead, he continued following the Truck on River Road…

[201]     Constables Lee and Whitney and Corporal Waldron proceeded to follow the vehicle. I find that they were, as Mr. Laughlin and Constable Hartigan testified, proceeding quickly. Their actions, on a balance of probabilities, caused Mr. Bolton to continue to drive at a high rate of speed. On the evidence, but for their pursuit, the accident with Ms. Brundige would not have occurred.

[202]     I find the defendant, the Minister of Justice for the Province of British Columbia, liable for the negligence of the officers.


RCMP Liable for Fatal Collision in Course of Pursuit of Suicidal Motorist

January 7th, 2014

Update June 22, 2015The BC Court of Appeal ordered a new trial finding the trial courterred in law in imposing a new or novel duty of care on police in advance of a pursuit without having conducted a full Anns/Cooper inquiry”

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Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing liability for a fatal collision which occurred during a police pursuit.

In today’s case (Bergen v. Guliker) the Plaintiff vehicle was struck head on by the Defendant vehicle which was fleeig from police at the time of collision.  The court noted that “Prior to the Collision, it was known that Mr. Guliker was suicidal, had stated an intention to jump into traffic to kill himself, and was a flight risk. When the RCMP first approached Mr. Guliker, he was parked at a chicken farm on Bustin Road. On sighting the RCMP, Mr. Guliker fled north on Bustin Road at a high rate of speed.”.

The Court found that the RCMP were in part responsible for the tragic collision.  In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Savage provided the following reasons:

[249]     Once Mr. Guliker accelerated down Bustin Road, it was obvious to the RCMP officers that Mr. Guliker’s sighting of their vehicles precipitated his flight. A proper risk assessment at this point would have alerted the officers to the significant public safety risk of chasing a suicidal individual who is determined to evade apprehension down unfamiliar rural roads at high rates of speed.

[250]     Nevertheless, the officers commenced and continued a pursuit of Mr. Guliker up to the point of the Collision.

[251]     To summarize, in my opinion Constables Huff and Brand failed to conduct a proper risk assessment at two critical times: (1) before deciding to proceed down Bustin Road without a plan in place that recognised the likelihood of Mr. Guliker fleeing in his vehicle, and (2) after proceeding down Bustin Road toward Mr. Guliker’s location and seeing him accelerate away. A proper first risk assessment would have precipitated the development of a plan to address the likelihood of Mr. Guliker fleeing. A proper second risk assessment would have called off the chase and considered other options.

[252]     I find that Constables Huff and Brand did not act within the standard of a reasonable police officer, acting reasonably and within the statutory powers imposed upon them in the circumstances of this case. In the result, the RCMP officers breached their duty of care owed to the plaintiffs.