A $7 million lawsuit has been filed in Ontario against Uber Canada and the City of Toronto, amongst other defendants, for the fatality of Nicholas Cameron (“Cameron”), who was a passenger in a ridesharing vehicle in 2018.
Uber driver, Abdihared Bishar-Mussa (“Bishar-Mussa”), is also a named defendant. He was also criminally charged for the accident and pleaded guilty to careless driving. Bishar-Mussa was fined $1,000, given a one-year driving ban, required to complete 50 hours of community service and placed on probation for 2 years.
On March 21, 2018 at approximately 3:30 am, Cameron and his girlfriend, Monika Traikov (“Traikov”), were travelling to Toronto Pearson International Airport in an Uber. Their vehicle was rear-ended in the westbound lanes of the Gardiner Expressway.
According to an agreed statement of facts from the criminal proceedings against Bishar-Mussa, his phone and GPS fell from the mount onto the floor. He pulled his vehicle partly onto the shoulder to put the phone back on the mount. As he proceeded back onto the highway, his vehicle was struck by a BMW traveling at 107 km/h causing the Uber vehicle to travel across four lanes of the highway, where it came to rest against the centre median several hundred feet away.
Cameron was seated directly behind the driver’s seat and suffered a catastrophic neck injury. Sadly, he never regained consciousness and passed away in hospital the next day.
Traikov suffered a concussion and other minor injuries as a result of the accident.
Both Traikov and Cameron’s mother, Cheryl Hawkes (“Hawkes”), have commenced a lawsuit against Uber Canada, the City of Toronto, an Uber subsidiary called Raiser Operations, Stars Auto Sales, Bishar-Mussa, and the driver of the BMW, Joseph Estacion.
Traikov and Hawkes are each claiming $3.5 million in damages, plus expenses. They allege that the “defendants engaged in conduct which was harsh, vindictive, reprehensible, and malicious, including but not limited to: a wanton and outrageous disregard for the safety of the residents of the city of Toronto; a wanton and outrageous disregard for the safety of Uber passengers; a marked departure from ordinary standards of decent behaviour.”
The City of Toronto is included as a defendant in the lawsuit as city council passed a bylaw in 2016 that withdrew a 17-day taxi driver training program in order to broaden vehicle-for-hire services and create increased competition. It is alleged that this decision by the City led to Cameron’s death.
The lawsuit also includes allegations that Uber’s lobbying resulted in the removal of training requirements for vehicle-for-hire drivers and that Uber assisted in drafting the bylaw resulting in a “wanton and outrageous disregard for the safety of the residents of the City of Toronto”. It is further alleged that the City financially profited from these lenient rules by collecting a fee for every Uber ride in Toronto.
Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that the absence of mandatory Uber driver training contributed to Cameron’s death. At the time of the accident, the City of Toronto did not have any rules of this nature. Last summer, Toronto passed a vehicle-for-hire bylaw requiring all driver’s to complete mandatory driver training. This bylaw took effect earlier this year, however, it is not clear as to what type of training is required.
The lawsuit claims that Uber failed to test Bishar-Mussa’s driving ability and failed to train him to prevent the crash. It is alleged that Uber “created a business model which required drivers to use their cell phone while driving, contrary to the Highway Traffic Act”.
At the time of the accident, Bishar-Mussa was a 23-year-old who had recently moved to Toronto from Ottawa. In fact, it was only his second day operating as an Uber driver. When he first began driving the couple he was travelling in the wrong direction until Cameron and Traikov advised him of his mistake. He then suggested that they take city streets instead of the highway, at which point the couple insisted that he take the highway. The lawsuit alleges that Bishar-Mussa was distracted by his phone and unfamiliar with the route to the airport.
Traikov alleges that she “suffered permanent serious personal injuries” as a result of the collision, including a traumatic brain injury and severe physical pain. She also makes a claim for damages for rehabilitation and medical procedures, loss of income, loss of future income and claims that she has suffered a loss related to an inability to participate in recreational activities she once enjoyed.
The lawsuit also claims that the plaintiffs have suffered severe mental distress and the plaintiffs make claims for aggravated damages. Hawkes seeks damages for the loss of comfort and care she would have received from her son, lost income, expenses related to Cameron’s care and his funeral, and the impact Cameron’s death has had on her overall enjoyment of life.
I’ve lost my son, that’s not going to change. We’ve been shattered for a couple of years now. It’s been emotionally draining…it shakes you up in ways you don’t even know about.
Neither the City of Toronto nor Uber have commented on the recently served lawsuit.
None of the claims or allegations have been proven in court. We will continue to follow this case and will report any new developments in this blog.
At Cuming & Gillespie LLP we are committed to helping you and your loved ones. If you or a loved one are suffering from injuries as the result of a motor vehicle accident and believe a third party is responsible, you may be entitled to compensation for damages. Please contact the award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP either online or by calling 403-571-0555. We can get started with a free case evaluation and are dedicated to providing you with the legal help that you deserve.