A recent ruling from B.C.’s Supreme Court found a Vancouver dealership was at least partly to blame for a series of serious collisions that occurred after a thief stole a truck from the store’s lot.
The convoluted case dates back to April 2012 when David James Bolton stole a 2011 GMC Sierra that was left unlocked and running outside of a detail bay at Dueck Downtown Chevrolet Buick GMC on Terminal Ave.
Bolton stole the truck from the store and drove to Richmond, B.C.
Court documents show police eventually located him through a GPS tracking system, but when RCMP moved in to arrest him, Bolton backed the stolen truck into a police vehicle and drove away.
An officer in the unmarked police vehicle Bolton hit suffered a fractured bone in his neck, a fractured bone in his hand and a leg injury, the Vancouver Sun reported.
A high-speed police pursuit ensued that at one point was called off, until another collision occurred at the corner of No. 5 Rd. and River Rd where Bolton struck a second vehicle injuring a woman and her five-year-old son.
He managed to drive the truck away from that scene and cross the Queensborough Bridge into New Westminster.
Police finally stopped him after he left the first truck and attempted to steal another vehicle from a second dealership’s service area.
The Vancouver Sun reported three civil lawsuits were filed in connection with the case. Const. Quinn Provost, the injured officer, sued Bolton and Dueck; Brandy Brundige, the female driver who was injured, sued Bolton, Dueck and the police who failed to halt the pursuit as ordered; a third suit saw the Attorney-General of Canada sue both Bolton and Dueck.
In his ruling released Sept. 12, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kelleher said it was reasonably foreseeable that the truck could be stolen given the careless way it was left at the dealership.
And while there was no dispute that the most blameworthy party was Bolton, it was Dueck’s negligence that created a situation that was “highly tempting” to any opportunistic would-be thief.
“Given the character of the dealership location, the size of the truck, and the complete lack of care exercised by Dueck staff, I assess Dueck’s blameworthiness at 15 per cent in all three actions,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
He noted the dealership had a duty to the plaintiffs to secure the vehicles on the lot and the store’s inability to do so helped cause the injuries and damage.
Damages will likely be determined sometime in November.
– With files from The Vancouver Sun