Moose-vehicle collision lawsuit begins this week

Josh
Josh Pennell
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Has potential to change the law

The unique moose-vehicle class-action lawsuit being handled by Ches Crosbie starts Tuesday, and the case has the potential to break new ground in the land of the law.
Crosbie said he doesn’t know of any cases in Canada like it, but there have been some in the U.S. that involved allegations that wildlife fencing should have been in place.
In some cases, the plaintiff won, Crosbie said. They were individual cases and not class action such as the one he is handling.

“The case really is a case for experts. It’s a common issues trial,” said Crosbie.

This week there will be experts in their respective fields called to the stand such as Bob Cuff, a Newfoundland historian who will explain the history of moose on the island.

The case will start, though, with some people who have been directly affected by a moose-vehicle collision.

“It’s just to put a human face on the problem or the scope of the problem,” Crosbie said.

Jennifer Pilgrim, who is a plaintiff witness, lost her husband in a moose-vehicle collision in 2009. Ben Bellows, another main plaintiff, is quadriplegic as the result of a moose-vehicle accident in 2003.

The case isn’t dealing with particular injuries or individual compensations, though.

“The questions are questions like, ‘Is the government negligent? Is there a defence of core policy decision?’ Because if the government can prove that what was done or not done was a matter of core policy decision, then they have a good defence. Also, we’re looking at causation,” said Crosbie.

Causation deals with where collisions happen. There are moose-vehicle collisions all over the island, but they also happen in areas of concentrated collisions.

“For any individual class member, there remains the issue of, was there a particular accident at a position on the highway which should have been fenced?”

Nobody is suggesting the entire TCH should be fenced off, Crosbie added, but there are areas that may be proven to be of higher risk. Also, if an accident took place in a location where collisions are a rarity, the government can argue the area wouldn’t have been fenced anyway and wouldn’t have prevented a collision.

“So that’s where the argument based on (moose) density becomes very important,” Crosbie said.

The Save Our People Action Committee formed in 2009 by survivors of moose-vehicle collisions to highlight the problem of moose on the highways in Newfoundland and Labrador. TheIt has a goal to reduce the moose-vehicle collision rate by 50 per cent or more over five years.

“Can that be done by reduction of the population of moose, at least in the areas adjacent to the major road? That’s the question. And if we can show that that is feasible then we may be able to prove that independently of where the fencing might be put, the probabilities favour that none of these people would have been in a collision,” Crosbie said.

Although the case may seem complicated, Crosbie said it’s not bad on a relative scale. He compares it to a malpractice trial he just finished that had 12 doctors testify.

“Compared to that it’s not complicated. It’s not complex in terms of the evidence.”

If Crosbie and his group win, the result could carry quite a bit of clout, though.

“The challenge is in the law because if we succeed it will be new law. We are pushing back the frontiers of the law, for sure,” Crosbie said.

 

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com

Organizations: People Action Committee

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Michael
    April 05, 2014 - 23:42

    Of course in some cases sadly these accidents happen no matter how careful a person drives which nobody has any control over but sadly these accidents often turn out terrible with a great deal of damage however there are also too many people in other cases on the road who speed, who don't pay attention because they are either too busy on a cell phone or texting, some even drink and drive. I don't like the language used reduction in moose population, it almost sounds like an excuse for people to go hunting and killing them, I'm not saying that's what it is, it just sounds that way and I hope that will never happen. Now about putting up fences, sure I'm all for that provided that it doesn't prevent the moose from getting their food. If nature won't be hurt by this then by all means yes, the government should put fences up, find a way to do it at the lowest cost possible to the tax payers. If the cost is going to be too high then obviously it can't be done because people are over taxed as it is and some just simply can't afford anymore because they struggle just to try and meet basic needs of living. Another idea that might be cheaper is for government to re-locate some not all but some of the moose away from highly populated areas where people travel.

  • Linda
    April 01, 2014 - 18:22

    I wish Mr. Crosbie success in this case. The majority of people do not understand what it is like to have a severe life changing moose accident. Speed was not a factor, distraction was not a factor. In a split second, yes, a split second, my life changed forever!!!!!! Nursing career gone, unbearable pain, family affected, finances affected. Please do not make a judgment unless you can walk in my shoes.

  • Lucy
    April 01, 2014 - 17:50

    I have said from day one , Until it happens to you You never know If you lost a love one If one of. your family members ends up in a wheel chair If your love one hit a a moose you have different story

  • Duffy
    April 01, 2014 - 16:41

    In my humble opinion this is all about Lawyers and getting taxpayers money (the deep pocket)........... Look at how much Ambulance Chasers have made in the past on suits - not that this may be one. Hopefully the decision will be made on the facts and not the sorrow we all feel for the people that crashed into a Moose and were injured.

  • Yo mama
    April 01, 2014 - 02:54

    This belongs in the comics section. Nonsense.

  • Wendy
    March 31, 2014 - 21:45

    Neil, there is a major difference between a moose and a rabbit jumping onto the road, say 1000 lbs!! This lawsuit is not about a financial gain to those affected, it is about the government realizing the need to put barriers in place for the safety of their people and animals! New Burnswick along with Jasper and Banff National Parks have these barriers in place and work quite well! In does not prevent all vehicle and animal accidents, they have minimalized them. As someone who has been affected by losing a loved one to a moose-vehicle collision, I see the need for these safety barriers to be put in place.

  • Neil
    March 31, 2014 - 15:10

    So if I beat up my front bumper hitting a rabbit can I sue the government to get it paid for?? Pretty sure I probably had whiplash too when it happened.... These law suits are simply unnecessary. I can't see how you can blame someone for a moose jumping out into the road as you drive by. It is a very unfortunate incident and the consequences are very real but I don't think anyone can be blamed. You would have to go back to the beginning when the number of licences were limited. You would be looking at suing years and years of governments....simply not necessary at all.

  • Neil
    March 31, 2014 - 15:09

    So if I beat up my front bumper hitting a rabbit can I sue the government to get it paid for?? Pretty sure I probably had whiplash too when it happened.... These law suits are simply unnecessary. I can't see how you can blame someone for a moose jumping out into the road as you drive by. It is a very unfortunate incident and the consequences are very real but I don't think anyone can be blamed. You would have to go back to the beginning when the number of licences were limited. You would be looking at suing years and years of governments....simply not necessary at all.

  • Angus
    March 31, 2014 - 14:31

    If this lawsuit goes all the way to the SC and Ches Crosbie wins then the laws preventing workers' from suing should receive the same treatment before the courts.

  • Angus
    March 31, 2014 - 14:29

    If this lawsuit goes all the way to the SC and Ches Crosbie wins then the laws preventing workers' from suing should receive the same treatment before the courts.

  • Don
    March 31, 2014 - 13:54

    Mr. Crosbie should be paying for this ridiculous case out of his own resources, not wasting working taxpayers' money. Certainly my heart aches for those who are victims of a moose/vehicle collision, but what Mr. Crosbie is looking for is not reasonable or sensible.

    • Joe
      March 31, 2014 - 14:47

      Mr. Crosbie isn't looking for anything. His clients are. And no one put a gun to their heads to pony up for the lawsuit. I don't necessarily agree that they have a case, but it's certainly their case to make.

  • Jeffrey
    March 31, 2014 - 11:01

    This man thrives on attention and always being right; rather he "thinks" he's always right.

  • Lee Gality
    March 31, 2014 - 10:06

    New law? If the Executive decided to buy an MRI instead of a fence, how can that ever be decided after the fact to have been negligence? Governments prioritize. When their priorities are deemed to be offside the electorate, they are defeated, not sued. Paul Martin made drastic cuts and Jack Layton accused him of having caused the deaths of homeless people by his cuts. Martin was defeated. If a class action like this is successful, the current government will likely have to decide NOT to spend money somewhere else, which, in two or three governments hence, may then very well be the subject of another class action.

  • Fred
    March 31, 2014 - 09:30

    Solution. Round up all the moose and send them back to New Brunswick. Stop wasting our tax $$$$$$$ on such trivial nonsense.