It wasn’t the boy’s fault.
The Court of Appeal for Ontario has upheld an $8-million negligence ruling in a case against the City of Hamilton involving a child who was struck by a car after a crossing guard left early.
“This will help him with some quality of life,” family lawyer Robert J. Hooper said over the weekend. “I’m ecstatic for Dean and his family.”
Dean Saumur was 10 at the time of the 2002 crash that changed his life forever.
He was on his way to school alone that rainy May 14 when he got to the corner of Gray Road and Collegiate Avenue in Stoney Creek.
The crossing guard wasn’t there.
So he ventured onto the four-lane road alone. Crossing east to west, he was struck a few steps in by a northbound car in the curb lane.
He was thrown into the air and suffered critical injuries — including permanent brain damage — when he landed on his head.
The city appealed the 2015 ruling, arguing the boy was negligent in crossing the road and should have known better. The city also argued the crash happened after 8:40 a.m., when the crossing guard was off the clock.
The appeals court disagreed and found the trial judge was right in ruling the boy could not be held responsible. Based on four witnesses who saw the accident, and the 911 call that came in at 8:42:58 a.m., the court agreed the crash happened before 8:40 a.m.
A decision on a further appeal will be made in conjunction with the city’s insurers.
“I would like to make it clear that we (the city) have every sympathy for Dean Saumur and his family,” John McLennan, the city’s manager of risk management services, said in an email.
“Dean’s injuries were certainly significant and life altering and we have great admiration for the determination and perseverance he has demonstrated with his recovery.”
Dean, now 24, made the trek to Toronto for the appeal last week. He was nervous and asked Hooper if he didn’t like what the judge said, could he “object” in court.
Dean lives with his mother and is undergoing rehabilitation. He does volunteer work at a museum when he can. His mom left her job to help him.
It was a case that came down to seconds, Hooper said.
Crossing guard Helen Kaumeyer was not at the crosswalk when Saumur was hit, the court determined.
Kaumeyer was never disciplined by the city but left to take another job.
The city says it has not made significant changes to the crossing guard program as a result of this case.
“The program has a tremendous safety history and we felt the Saumur accident was actually unrelated to the program as the bulk of evidence seemed to indicate that the accident occurred after 8:40 when the crossing guard had left her post,” McLennan said, despite the ruling.
“It was also the city’s position that it is not unreasonable to expect a 10-year-old to visually check for traffic before stepping into a roadway.”
Half the blame also fell on the driver, the court ruled. Saumur settled in 2005 with that party.
In addition, Saumur was awarded more than $400,000 for legal fees.
Source: The Hamilton Spectator