• It is worth nothing this claim was already dismissed, except for the question of whether defendant was negligent in “not slowing down or coming to a stop once the threat to jump out was made by the intoxicated passenger.” I have a hard time conjuring up facts where this is a meritorious claim – even if the driver sped up as the Plaintiff was half out the window – and I doubt a Canadian jury will every hear the case.

  • The part of the claim that was dismissed is clearly outrageous, but I’m not so sure about the remaining part as Ron Miller is. Not that I’m sure that it is meritorious, either, just that it seems that there might in fact be circumstances in which it could be. It is well established that the driver of a vehicle owes a duty of care to passengers the breach of which is negligence. This duty consists primarily in driving at a reasonable standard of safety. A person who drives recklessly resulting in injury to a passenger is indeed liable to the passenger. The question, then, is whether there are circumstances under which the driver owes a duty of care to a drunken passenger to prevent him or her from falling out of the vehicle. One argument might be that someone who accepts a role as “designated driver” assumes a duty to control the drunken passenger. In addition to the fact that there is, to my knowledge, no precedent for this, one might argue that a DD only assumes that his passenger is too drunk to drive legally, not that his passenger is so drunk as to be a danger to himself as a passenger, and that the driver cannot reasonably be assumed to have assumed such a duty.

    But, there is a set of facts on which, it seems to me, standard doctrine might assign a duty of care to the driver, namely a situation in which the injury to the passenger arises from the combination of the passenger’s drunkenness and the state of the vehicle. Arguably, if the driver knew in advance that he was to be DD, the possibility of injury to a drunken passenger was foreseeable, and he should therefore have provided a vehicle safe for the transport of the inebriated passenger. If the driver provided a vehicle missing a door, for example, so that a passenger not fully in control of himself could easily fall out, the driver would be liable. On the other hand, if the fall were due to the passenger hanging out the window of a vehicle in normal condition, the driver would not be liable.

  • The question, then, is whether there are circumstances under which the driver owes a duty of care to a drunken passenger to prevent him or her from falling out of the vehicle.

    That may be true, but that is not what happened. She did not fall out of the car. She jumped out of the car.

    In November 2007, Inga Richardson leapt out of a car onto an Oshawa street as a quarrel with her common-law spouse reached a peak.

  • The question that I have, not being a lawyer, is why would a lawyer even file such a ridiculous lawsuit in the first place? Is it because he is a total incompetent or did he really believe that there would be a reasonable chance that the judge would allow the lawsuit to go forward?

    Clearly the idea that the designated driver should be responsible for the people he is driving turns the whole concept of a designated driver on its head. You are there to prevent them from having an accident not to prevent them from drinking too much. However, the idea that the driver should know how to respond to some irrational threat by the passenger because she once jumped out of a boat is equally preposterous. How could he be expected to predict how the person would react? Even if he were a psychiatrist he could not do it. In fact, if psychiatrist were held responsible for the actions of their patients they would be out of business.

  • Why would a lawyer file a lawsuit this ridiculous? You know the answer as well as anyone here: so that he can get paid.

    As for me, no more being the designated driver.


  • “Mr. MacDonald said Friday that Mr. Sanayhie still lives with Ms. Richardson and helps provide her with 24-hour-a-day care. Ms. Richardson suffers from headaches and dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision, permanent disfigurement and profound physical and emotional shock.”

    It sounds more like he is supporting the suit to get get money from his auto insurer, then split the proceeds with her. It doesn’t seem like they have a particularly adverse relationship with each other, merely with the deep pocket they wish to pick. This will be made easier for the plaintiff’s attorney because he stands to gain and will be their lapdog on deposition and on the stand.

  • Bill, I think the obligation is actually pretty clear: a road safe vehicle. I would hate to rise the liability to provide a vehicle specifically to protect drunks. Moreover, if there was no door on the vehicle and the passenger gets in, I think the passenger assumes that risk.

    I really don’t imagine that Bob Lipton served as a DD for his friends and now will no longer do so because of this post. It sounds logical enough until you actually think about it. Tort laws don’t play a big role in my interaction with or obligations to my friends. Still, the idea of allowing for the idea that we have special obligations to drunks that we are transporting is a bad one. If I were the judge, I would have granted summary judgment to the defendant on the basis that no reasonable jury could conclude there is liability. (I’m pretending, for the sake of argument, that Canadian law follows our paradigm on how this should be approached.)

  • Nope, no more being a designated driver for me. Especially since I gave up my license in 1988.

    Is there anyone sufficiently up on Canadian law to comment on the ability of the insurance company to fight this, assuming that this is a put-up job to get money out of theinsurance company and split it among the couple with, of course, the lawyer being shocked, shocked that anyone would think that?