Guiliani v. Saville (1998) B.C.J. No. 273 (BCCA), (1999)

In Guiliani the British Columbia Court of Appeal found that the plaintiff standing in the middle of the road, in the path of the defendant’s approaching vehicle was not contributory negligent when the defendant’s vehicle collided with the plaintiff.

The plaintiff Guiliani and his friends were driving past the defendant when the defendant “gave them the finger”.  An invitation to fight ensued and the defendant escaped by getting into his vehicle and speeding off.  The plaintiff proceeded to stand in the roadway waiting for the defendant to return.  The court accepted that the plaintiff was standing in the roadway in order to identify the defendant when he returns and to take down the defendant’s license plate number.

When the defendant finally returned, he was approaching the plaintiff at an accelerated speed.  The plaintiff continued to stand in the roadway despite having ample opportunity to get out of the way of the defendant’s vehicle.  The trial judge accepted the evidence that the plaintiff did not move until the car was virtually upon him and it was too late to get out of the way.

The trial judge found that the plaintiff was 30% responsible for his injuries.  The court of appeal reversed the finding of contributory negligence. At paragraph 10, it held that the trial judge reached her conclusion:

 “without regard for the flagrant and almost unforeseeable   conduct of the defendants and without regard for the fact that the defendant had ample room to steer clear of the plaintiff.”

The court rejected the submission that having regard to the previous altercation between the parties the plaintiff should have known that standing in the path of the defendant’s vehicle was particularly dangerous.

At paragraph 11, the court stated that:

the plaintiff could see the defendant coming but it was not reasonably foreseeable   that the defendant, who could see him equally well, would continue to drive towards him at an accelerated speed.

Alexander Rozine is an Associate at D’Angela Fox Vanounou LLP, a plaintiff-side personal injury firm in Toronto.