A $250 million class-action claim has been filed on behalf of drivers who’ve crashed on the Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP) since its opening in 2007.
Two law firms, Grosso Hooper and Scarfone Hawkins, have issued a statement of claim in excess of $250 million against the City of Hamilton as a result of what they call “negligent design, construction and maintenance.”
The claim states that over 2,000 vehicles have lost control on the road in the past 12 years, resulting in either single- or multiple-vehicle crashes.
The suit also asks for damages related to a 2013 report concerning the pavement’s “slipperiness” which was hidden for more than five years and will be the subject of an upcoming judicial inquiry.
City staff have apologized after the report found friction levels on the Red Hill were below, and in some places, well below the standard.
However, none of those claims have been proven in court.
A pair of families are at the forefront of the class action including Corinne Klassen, a 54-year-old mother of three from London who claims her vehicle “spun out three times and hit a guardrail three times” after losing control on the Parkway in October of 2016. Klassen says she was “significantly injured” in the crash and claims to have suffered a concussion and muscle and nerve injuries leaving her disabled.
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Meanwhile, the other representative plaintiffs are the family of Michael Sholer who died on the RHVP in January of 2017. In that crash, the Sholers claim Michael’s vehicle lost control “without warning or any logical reason” and smashed through a median and hit a transport truck.
Rob Hooper, from the Grosso Hooper firm and the lead lawyer in the claim, told Global News Radio that they are also seeking damages for the hidden study of 2013 and lack of remedial measures taken by the city in response to that report.
“We will suggest from a common sense basis if the report would not have been lost, hidden, purposefully or accidentally not disclosed to the appropriate parties within the city of Hamilton and to the public, perhaps these remedial measures would have been taken earlier and lives would have been saved,” said Hooper.
“Why was remedial action not taken when they were told it was not safe. And you know we all know from the media that at least four people have lost their lives on that road since the report was authored.”
The other fatalities on the roadway since the release of the 2013 report include a 26-year-old male who died on scene after his car collided with two others in a late-night three-vehicle crash between Greenhill Avenue and King Street.
And in May of 2015, two recent high school grads Jordyn Hastings and Olivia Smosarski, also died in a late-night collision with another car between the Greenhill Avenue and King Street exits.
The two law firms will now seek to have the lawsuit certified by the Ontario Superior Court in Hamilton.
The city has 20 days to respond to the statement of claim.
Hooper says he expects the city will ask for a waiver to expand that time. When asked how long this might all take Hooper said he wasn’t sure but expects it to be a slow process.
“It will be based on how long it takes to get the class-action proceeding judge to have enough time set aside to do the hearing,” said Hooper, “And then, in this particular case, there’s a little bit of another wrench which you may or may not know is that the city asked the courts to appoint a justice to do a judicial inquiry.”
In light of the claim being served to the City, Hooper says it’s not too late for those who have been involved in an incident on the Parkway to join the class-action.
“It’s open to anyone who was in a car crash from the inception of the opening which was November 2007 to date,” Hopper said, “There’s various groups of people not only people who are injured but people who may have suffered financially because of having a mishap on the Red Hill because of its state of non repair.”
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