Driver Who Killed Teen Suing Him For Emotional Distress
Today’s odd legal story comes out of Canada, where an Ontario woman has filed what seems like one of the most outrageous counterclaims ever:
A woman driving a car that struck and killed a teenager and seriously injured another is now suing the dead 17-year-old in a twist the boy’s family lawyer calls “distasteful.”
A statement of claim filed last December alleges the driver, Sharlene Simon, “sustained serious and permanent injuries to important physical, mental and psychological functions” following the October 2012 accident in Innisfil, Ont.
It says her “enjoyment of life has been irretrievably lessened.”
Brandon Majewski, 17, Richard McLean, 16, and Jake Roberts, 16, were riding their bikes along Innisfil Beach Rd. around 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 28 when the accident occurred.
Majewski was killed and McLean seriously injured after being struck riding in one lane of the two-lane stretch which was dimly lit on a drizzly, damp night.
Roberts escaped unharmed. All three teens are named in Simon’s lawsuit.
A 26-page reconstruction report by the South Simcoe Police Service said visibility of the cyclists was the main contributing factor and that police were advised against laying charges by the Crown because “there is absolutely no reasonable prospect of a conviction.”
“The family feels like the wound has been opened up again,” said Brian Cameron, the Majewskis’ lawyer. “The legal theory I sort of understand, but never against a child. Not against a child.”
The statement of claim alleges the boys were negligent, biking without the appropriate lights and reflectors, without helmets and they didn’t keep an eye on the road or their bikes under control.
It also claims negligence on the part of the County of Simcoe for failing to keep the road and lighting in good repair.
None of the claims have been proven in court.
Simon’s husband, mother and three children are also named as plaintiffs in the case and, combined, are seeking more than $1 million.
Simon has been heavily criticized since news of the lawsuit broke. “The whole situation is tragic,” her lawyer, Michael Ellis, said in response.
“It’s a tragedy what happened to the boys but it’s also a tragedy that’s happened to (Simon),” he said, adding she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is unable to work.
“I understand their grief and I understand what they must be going through is awful but my client is also living with this nightmare every day.”
Majewski’s stepmother, Lisa Tessier, called the lawsuit “cruel.”
“My dead son and the other boys are being sued by the woman that killed him because she is distraught,” Tessier wrote in an email.
“Normally, I would not react like this. But I think it’s very cruel to me that my life is basically ruined. I lost both my children and now they (the three teens) are being sued because she is upset.”
Majewski’s older brother, Devon, was found dead at home six months after the accident.
Majewski’s family is also suing Simon for what essentially amounts to wrongful death in the case, and has brought the county in under essentially the same legal theory that Simon is making in her claim.
Since I’m not at all familiar with Canadian law, I’m not going to comment on the legal and procedural reasons why this claim against a dead 17 year old may have been brought (indeed, if anyone who is familiar with the law here can explain this in the comments, please do so). However, at least here in the United States a claim of this type against the estate of the child would certainly not be considered mandatory and in most circles would be seen as the definition of legal chutzpah.