Moose lawsuit survives bid to exclude claimants

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Decision due today in Supreme Court on whether to delay trial start date

A Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court justice has decided that expert opinion is relevant to participation in a class-action lawsuit concerning moose-vehicle collisions.

A moose is shown running in front of a car as it crosses the road in Gros Morne National Park in this 2007 photo. A class-action lawsuit against the provincial government by victims of moose-vehicle accidents has scored the first point in the struggle for the plaintiffs to receive compensation. The judge ruled expert opinion is relevant to participation in the suit.
— TC Media file photo

The ruling delivered late Tuesday afternoon means plaintiff participation can cover a 10-year period instead of a two-year one as was requested by the defendant in the case, the provincial government.

St. John’s lawyer Ches Crosbie argued that plaintiffs could not have been aware of the true value of their claims against the province without consulting a wildlife collision expert. He also claimed it was not feasible for an individual to pursue legal action.

Government lawyer Rolf Pritchard argued in court there was no continuing cause of action to warrant the 10-year time frame and that the cause of injury in each case was a specific event.

Justice Valerie Marshall in the end sided with Crosbie. She wrote in her decision that “an expert’s opinion was required by each individual member of the Class in order for the limitation period in negligence to commence running.”

She added that it cannot be determined at this point whether all of the plaintiffs did exercise “reasonable diligence in obtaining the expert’s opinion.” Marshall said that issue is a matter for the trial judge to rule on.

In a news release issued by Ches Crosbie Barristers, plaintiff Ben Bellows said the decision was “a great weight off my mind.” Rendered a quadriplegic following a moose-vehicle collision in 2003, Bellow was among those who would have become ineligible for the class-action lawsuit depending on Marshall’s decision.

The release said the plaintiffs want compensation for injuries, fences erected in problem areas along highways in the province and an overall reduction in moose-vehicle collisions.

According to Crosbie, a decision in favour of government’s arguement would have removed all claimants involved in accidents before Jan. 5, 2009, two years prior to the date Crosbie originally filed the lawsuit.

Among those who have been asked to testify in the trial is Premier Kathy Dunderdale. She was served with a subpoena last month.

The trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 13, 2014, but government has requested a delay. Marshall is expected to making a ruling today on that matter.

 

 

Organizations: Supreme Court

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Recent comments

  • John Smith
    December 12, 2013 - 20:18

    Chess has raised ambulance chasing to a new level...hope his family is proud of him...

  • Frank Chelais
    December 12, 2013 - 18:13

    I hunt every fall and for people to say the moose population is is excessive are wrong. It may be the case in particular areas but no across province. I drive the highways hundreds of times a year and I see less moose now than in 10-20 years ago. I am not sure what people expect the Government to do!! This lawsuit can set a trend that everytime something happens and someone gets hurt, file a lawsuit! If there are 10 accidents tonight , can we say it was road conditions and then sue GNL?? We will pay the bill for this and time for taxpayers to stand up

  • Catherine
    December 12, 2013 - 15:03

    If you get into a car accident that was the other driver's fault, the other driver's insurance pays for your condition. If you get into a moose accident, the moose doesn't have insurance. It does not pay for your injuries. Due to injuries, you may not be able to work anymore. On top of that, maybe a loved one has to stop working to take care of you. You are not compensated in any way and may have to accept social assistance. If government is responsible for highway safety and the moose population, why shouldn't it be held accountable? Government needs to stop mismanaging our tax dollars and make things right! Other governments erect fences to deal with wildlife problems and it's cost effective when you consider the toll on life, health care, and clean up.

  • H Jefford
    December 12, 2013 - 14:20

    I think the auto insurance should, if it does not already carry, an insurance policy that would cover people injured in such an accident, the photo in this news release was taken by a person that knew the moose would run out in front of that car, Who are they suing for those injured, The people? The Government is the people ! why should my taxes have to pay for an auto injury that an insurance policy should have been carried to cover ?

  • Freddie
    December 12, 2013 - 10:47

    So, if I drive down the road and hit a moose then its the province's fault and they must compensate me? How odd. I always thought that was the purpose of vehicle insurance! I wonder what else the province should pay for....suppose I go fishing for cod, hit a whale and my boat sinks. How much can I get for that?

    • Dani
      December 12, 2013 - 12:09

      I think part of their reasoning for the lawsuit stems from the limitations on moose hunting licences, thus allowing overpopulation increasing the likelihood of moose/vehicle collisions.