VANCOUVER — A Surrey trucking couple has been awarded nearly five million dollars in court after suing Volvo and other defendants over electrical problems that sent their fully loaded tractor trailer into a terrifying jack-knife on the Trans Canada Highway.
Justice Barry Davies presided over Hans v. Volvo Trucks North America Inc. in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver and rendered his decision Thursday.
Husband and wife Amandeep Hans and Pavandeep Hans sued Volvo Trucks North America Inc., National Truck Centre Inc. doing business as Pacific Coast Heavy Truck Group, VFS Canada Inc. doing business as Volvo Financial Services and N. Yanke Transfer Ltd.
Davies’s reasons for judgement contained a dramatic narrative of the crash. which happened “on a dark, cold, snowy winter night” near Falcon Lake, Manitoba on Jan. 31, 2009.
The Hans were working for N. Yanke Transfer Ltd. at the time, heading to Surrey after a long haul trip that took them through parts of the United States and Eastern Canada. The tractor trailer truck they were driving, manufactured by Volvo Trucks North America, lost all electrical power, the court heard.
“Darkness enveloped the truck,” Davies wrote. “The driver lost all control of the steering and the trailer. Sparks began to fly amid the sound of screaming tires as the landing gear of the trailer scraped along the highway.
Davies noted the trailer jack-knifed, “and came towards the driver’s side of the truck’s cab. The driver and his wife, who had been resting in a bunk to the rear of the cab, both feared they would die.”
Hans had been driving up to 70 km/h when the truck was plunged into darkness. All electrical power was lost, including head lights, fog lights, interior lights and power steering. Both husband and wife feared they were going to die.
Their lives have changed dramatically since then, the judge noted, leaving Mr. Hans “a shadow of his former self physically, emotionally and socially” and Mrs. Hans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
“The plaintiffs allege that Volvo was negligent in designing, manufacturing and installing the critical cab positive terminal connection in the truck which caused the shutdown of the electrical system that caused the collision,” Davies noted.
“I find the totality of the evidence leads to the irresistible inference that the nut on the cab positive terminal of the truck was negligently installed by Volvo,” the judge found. “I also find that Volvo was negligent in failing to assign criticality 1 rating to the hardware and torque specifications for the installation of the electrical wiring to the cab positive terminal.”
Davies awarded the Hans $280,000 in non-pecuniary damages, $160,000 to Mrs. Hans in the form of an “In-trust” award, $198,868.75 to cover the cost of care Mr. Hans has already received, $1,781,000 for future care, and $2,442,826 in lost income earning capacity for a total award of $4,867.694.75