Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (Black Press Media files)

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (Black Press Media files)

Judge decides between duelling accounts of Langley accident

Was it a case of clipped with a car, or punched in the face?

A Surrey judge has ruled in favour of a man who said a cab clipped him in the parking lot of a Langley hotel six years ago, leaving the victim with years of back pain.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow had to choose between two very different versions of events presented by pedestrian Gregory Karoway, and cab driver Satnam Buttar, who was driving for White Rock South Surrey Taxi.

Karoway told the court that on the night of Oct. 6, 2016, he was walking in the parking lot of the Highway Hotel just before 10 p.m., when a cab clipped him on his left hip, spinning him around. Karoway said the incident left him sore and bruised, required a hospital visit, and led to months of pain and physiotherapy, impacting his ability to work.

Cab driver Buttar, however, said he’d had a dispute over payment with Karoway’s companion two days earlier on a trip to Maple Ridge. He suggested that she recognized his cab, and that the alleged attack was related to the prior incident.

In Buttar’s telling, he was nowhere near hitting Karoway or the woman he was with, but suddenly had his passenger-side door yanked open and was punched in the face.

However, the judge noted that Buttar never provided security footage from the taxi’s camera system. Buttar testified that only police can access the images, but an RCMP officer assigned to the incident told the court that he was never contacted.

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Ultimately, Gerow found that Buttar’s testimony had a number of contradictions. She also noted that photos of the cab right after the accident showed a streak down one side where dirt had been wiped off – apparently, where it had clipped Karoway.

“I find it is likely that Mr. Buttar was distracted as he drove through the parking lot and did not notice how close he was to the plaintiff,” Gerow wrote in her ruling.

Doctors who examined Karoway found that he suffers from chronic pain in his hips, lower back, and groin, and that the pain is directly connected to the collision.

This impacted his business, which was renovating older mobile homes and re-selling them. Karoway had done heavy work, lifting items of up to 100 pounds regularly.

Gerow awarded Karoway $100,000 in general damages, plus another $106,000 for loss of past and future earnings, medical care, and special costs.

In total, he was awarded $206,044.27.

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