Victory for Deering Sisters

A Court has ruled in favour of the Deering sisters in their fight against the City of Oshawa and the Town of Scugog by finding that a boundary road within both Municipalities was in such a state of disrepair that it posed an unreasonable risk of harm to ordinary users of the road.  The Deering sisters were both rendered quadriplegics when the vehicle that they were driving in left the roadway, crashed into a culvert and rolled several times.  Dale Orlando of McLeish Orlando represented Erica Deering in the 4 week trial that took place in May and June of this year.

Below is a reproduction of an article that appeared in the Toronto Sun (link here):

Two Port Perry sisters say they feel relieved to have gotten over the first hurdle in their lawsuit against the City of Oshawa stemming from a 2004 car crash that left them quadriplegics.

“We just heard (on Tuesday) when we talked to our lawyers and they say we did good and should be happy,” Shannon Deering said on Wednesday from her Port Perry home.

On Tuesday, Justice Peter Howden’s decision was released by the Ontario Superior Court which said the City of Oshawa was two-thirds responsible for the accident and Shannon, the driver of the car was one-third responsible.

Howden’s finding said the accident — on a hill on Coates Rd. W. — had a hidden danger requiring line markings and speed reduction warnings.

Shannon Deering, 25, and her sister Erica, 22, rose to prominence after the August 2004 crash. Their Port Perry community rallied around them, raised funds and contributed to building a 4,000 square-foot fully accessible home for them, their father and his mother.

But by early 2009, the sisters had become estranged from their father and the home was put up for sale.

The sisters also travelled to China in 2006 to undergo experimental stem cell treatments not available in North America.

“Oshawa did nothing to ensure that the road was not re-opened to the public without the safety/traffic control device assessment and necessary installations that should reasonably have flowed from it being put in place,” Howden wrote.

The trial lasted four weeks last spring.

“It has been a very long time and just the first step in a long walk,” Shannon said. “The defence could appeal and we would have to start all over again. I was found 33% responsible. I think the outcome could have been better, but I guess it could have been worse.”

The city has 30 days to appeal the ruling, said Deering lawyer Dale Orlando.

“I suspect they will file notice of appeal but obviously we are happy with the results and we think the decision was well reasoned,” Orlando said.

It was a very challenging case, said Roger Oatley, another Deering lawyer.

“No case could mean more to a lawyer than a case in which two lovely young women are depending so much on the outcome. We are simply thrilled for the Deering family,” Oatley said.

The Deering sisters are seeking damages in excess of $30,000,000.

They will be in wheelchairs the rest of their lives and need constant care.

Patrick Brown


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