Two Saskatoon corporations that owned the bars that served Catherine McKay the night she was involved in an impaired driving crash that killed a family of four are being sued by SGI.
SGI has filed a statement of claim in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench against the corporations behind Industrial Kitchen & Bar and Crackers Licensed Cocktail & Dining Room at the time of the fatal collision.
Those are the two establishments McKay had been at on Jan. 2-3, 2016 before she got behind the wheel of her vehicle and was involved in a collision at the intersection of Highway 11 and Wanuskewin Road.
Jordan Van de Vorst, 34 and Chanda, 33, were pronounced dead at the scene. Their children, five-year-old Kamryn and two-year-old Miguire, would later die in hospital.
Lou Van de Vorst, Jordan’s father, hopes the lawsuit sends a message.
He hopes in the long-term, “a new way of thinking” will emerge in Saskatchewan regarding serving alcohol.
“That we have to be a little bit more responsible in terms of what our fellow citizens are doing,” Lou Van de Vorst said.
During her criminal proceedings, court heard that McKay’s blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit at the time of the deadly crash.
Earl Cameron, the executive vice-president of SGI, said the lawsuit is about accountability.
“This is a case of contributory negligence. There are laws in place to hold impaired drivers accountable, with jail time, fines and other consequences,” Cameron said.
“We believe that the circumstances of this case are so egregious and the results so tragic, that the establishments who failed to take sufficient actions to prevent it need to be held accountable.”
Cameron said businesses that serve alcohol for profit need to take action to ensure no lives are put at risk.
“When a business is selling alcohol for profit, there is a higher degree of responsibility to prevent the customers they serve from posing a danger to others and themselves,” Cameron stated.
“Because no one stopped Catherine McKay from getting behind the wheel, four people died.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
He added that similar suits have been filed in other provinces.
“In jurisdictions across Canada, we are seeing more rulings where courts are placing increasing accountability on liquor establishments to ensure impaired patrons do not cause harm to others or themselves,” Cameron said.
A court in B.C. recently found a Vancouver pub was “25 per cent liable for a crash where an impaired patron could not safely operate his vehicle and hit a pedestrian, causing serious brain injury,” he stated.
This is the first time SGI has taken legal action against liquor establishments.
Cameron said similar action will be taken against other establishments if the evidence supports it.
He added that SGI also plans to file suit against McKay.
With files from Global’s Ryan Kessler