City of Calgary liable in decade-old LRT attack: Alberta Court of Appeal
The Alberta Court of Appeal has upheld the main findings of a Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench decision that found the City of Calgary responsible for injuries suffered by a man who was attacked at the Canyon Meadows LRT station on New Year’s Day in 2007.
The recent ruling determined the city is responsible for the injuries suffered by Kyle McAllister, who was 18 at the time, during the second half of the 20-minute attack.
“He was severely injured at the time, nearly every bone in his face was broken or fractured including both of his oribital bones.” said McAllister’s lawyer, Trevor McDonald.
“He had serious damage to his teeth which needed reconstructive surgery, he had a bad head injury including a severe concussion and it’s been a long road back to recovery for Kyle.”
The appeal judges determined the city was in breach of its duty for failing to have systems in place to detect and respond to an assault.
“As such, the city is liable for the incremental damages suffered by the respondent, after the reasonable response time of 10 minutes,” read the ruling.
“Both my client, Kyle McAllister, and myself are very happy with the decision,” said McDonald.
“A unanimous panel of three judges of the court of appeal upheld the trial judge’s decision that the city was negligent in failing to provide a reasonable, safe and secure transit system.”
According to the ruling, on the night of the attack the CTrain surveillance system was being monitored by two employees watching 42 monitors. Two of those were dedicated to the Canyon Meadows station.
The screens from 25 cameras at that station would cycle every three to four seconds. The operators didn’t notice the assault as it happened. Part of the attack was captured on camera, but the images are blurry.
A trial will determine how much money the city should compensate McAllister, which McDonald sai will liklely happen next year.
The trial judge found the city was partly responsible for damages since McAllister was using the overpass for its intended purpose, and was therefore owed a duty of care.
According to the ruling, the City should be able to detect an assault within five minutes.
“A response should have occurred within the next five to ten minutes. On a balance of probabilities, the City should only be found liable for being one cause of the incremental damage to the respondent within the final 10 minutes of this 20-minute event," read the ruling.
“This absolutely raises concerns about individuals privacy,” said Sharon Polsky, president and CEO of the Privacy and Access Council of Canada.
Polsky noted the Court of Appeal determined the City has a duty to detect incidents that could potentially result in physical injury or harm at its facilities.
“It puts all city property under the potential risk of being under a surveillance camera, which means everybody who comes and goes about their lawful business, will be under scrutiny," she said.
But McDonald disagrees.CTV
“I don’t think that this decision will result in a proliferation of surveillance cameras all over the city leading to some kind of a police state," he said.
"Rather, I think the city may make decisions to increase surveillance in some of their public spaces, ultimately that will be up to them.”
The City of Calgary issued an email statement to CTV.
“With respect to the McAllister lawsuit, the City has reviewed the Court of Appeal decision and is in the process of considering its next steps. The City has until August 29 to make a decision,” it read.
“In the 12 years since the assault on Mr. McAllister, there have been improvements in technology and there has been expansion of the CTrain system. As a result, there are more cameras system-wide.”
Two young offenders were convicted of criminal charges as a result of the attack.
McAllister no longer lives in Calgary. CTV News Calgary requested an interview through his lawyer but McAllister has not responded.