Uber and the City of Toronto are being sued for lack of driver training
The tragic death of a young man who was rear-ended while riding in an Uber along Toronto's Gardiner Expressway nearly two years ago has inspired a $7-million lawsuit that seeks to hold everyone from the vehicle's driver to the ride-sharing company to the City itself responsible.
Nicholas Cameron, 28, used the Uber app to hail a ride on March 21, 2018. He and his girlfriend, Monika Traikov, were picked up by an Uber driver named Abdihared Bishar-Mussa in a 2012 Hyundai Sonata.
The couple were heading toward Pearson airport ahead of a vacation when Bishar-Mussar's phone fell off its mount and onto the floor of the car. The driver pulled over near Park Lawn Road to remount the phone, but when he tried to re-enter traffic, his car was rear-ended at a high speed by a BMW.
It was later learned that Bishar-Mussar had only been driving for Uber for two days. He lost his license for a year and was sentenced to two years probation.
Cameron, however, sustained a neck injury in the collision that proved to be fatal. He died the next day.
Traikov was also hurt, according to a statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice late last month, and continues to suffer from "permanent serious personal injuries."
Both Traikov and Cameron's mother, Cheryl Hawkes, are now suing Uber Canada, the City of Toronto, an Uber subidiary called Raiser Operations, Stars Auto Sales, Bishar-Mussa, and the BMW's driver Joseph Estacion.
The women are asking for $3.5 each in damages, plus expenses, on the grounds that (among other things) all of the above parties "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 key issue in this case is one of mandatory Uber driver training — something that Toronto didn't have at the time of Cameron's death and doesn't have much of right now.
Under the city's vehicle-for-hire bylaws, an updated version of which came into effect at the beginning of 2020, no in-car driving training programs or tests are required.
Off-the-road training will be mandatory once the city selects a company to approve as a recognized provider (driver training profram owners still have until March 13 to apply.)
What this training will look like, however, remains to be seen, though a list of curriculum requirements suggests it will focus on safe driving behaviours and on how to deal with driving situations unique to Toronto.
Hawkes and Traikov argue in their court filing that this lack of a comprehensive training requirement for Uber drivers contributed to Cameron's death.
The City of Toronto, specifically, is called out for scrapping a 17-day taxi driver program in 2016, effectively rolling back requirements for all vehicle-for-hire operators.
Lawyers for Hawkes and Traikov allege that the city scrapped these rules on account of lobbying from Uber, noting that the city benefits financially by collecting $0.30 for every Uber ride that takes place in Toronto.
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