The family of Candice Williams, killed while walking on Highway 401 near Islington Avenue in the early morning hours of Dec. 3, 2011, has won a wrongful death lawsuit.
“They had to sue civilly to bring some justice for the death of this lovely young lady,” Patrick Brown, lawyer for the Williams family, told Global News on Friday.
Williams, a 34-year-old dental assistant and mother of a daughter who was engaged to be married, had spent the previous evening at a midtown Keg. She was celebrating a Christmas work party hosted by the dental office where she worked. Two friends decided to put Williams in a taxi at the end of the night because she was intoxicated and needed to get home to Mississauga.
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As the cab was travelling westbound along Highway 401, Williams demanded to get out to relieve herself. The driver pulled over in the shoulder of the freeway and told her not to get out, but she did. He called 911, but Brown said he drove off a short time later, leaving Williams on the side of the road.
It was then when Williams was struck by an oncoming van. That driver, To Ha Phan, was charged with impaired driving causing death. But in 2015, a judge found him guilty only of impaired driving and fined Phan $2,500. The charge of impaired driving causing death was dismissed.
In his ruling, the judge wrote, “The collision was unavoidable. She was unpredictable and created a dynamic situation, making it difficult for motorists to react.”
According to Brown, the driver of the taxi was never charged. The family sued the taxi driver, the impaired driver, the Keg restaurant, and Williams’ employer for negligence and punitive damages. Brown would not disclose the amount of the settlement.
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“For the family, I don’t think it was ever about money. I think it was about justice. Whether or not justice was ever served in this case is questionable,” he said.
“I think when you look at a case like this and the facts, in a civil lawsuit, it’s paid by insurance companies. It’s defended by insurance companies. But the actual participant defendants aren’t impacted.”
Still Brown said he hopes the case sends a message to every taxi and ride-sharing driver about the responsibility they have to their passengers.
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“[Williams] wanted to go to the bathroom. [The taxi driver] had three opportunities to pull off to the exit to let her out, he didn’t,” he said.
“Eventually he pulls off to the side of the 401 and she exits the car and he calls 911. But then he left to go pick up another fare and there she was staggering and then went onto the 401, was hit, and killed.”
Brown said drivers must be contractually and socially responsible for passengers who are impaired to ensure they are not put in harm’s way.