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Lawyer for trucker who caused deadly Broncos crash says families have no right to sue

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A lawyer for the truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash says families of the victims have no standing to seek compensation in an ongoing lawsuit.

Court arguments are being heard this week in Regina over whether the truck driver and Saskatchewan government can be removed as defendants in the suit. The claim also names the bus and trucking companies.

Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured when the rookie trucker went through a stop sign and into the path of the junior hockey team's bus at a rural intersection near Tisdale, Sask., in 2018.

The truck driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, was sentenced to eight years in prison for dangerous driving offences. Last week, Sidhu, who had permanent resident status, was ordered to be deported to India.

Families of four players and an assistant coach who were killed are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Lawyer Sheila Caston, who represents Sidhu, and Calgary-based Adesh Deol Trucking, told court Wednesday that Saskatchewan has no-fault insurance under the province's Automobile Accident Insurance Act.

Caston said the legislation covers any claim for damages from injuries in a crash, unless they are permitted by the act.

"The plaintiffs' entire claim is founded on the fact of the very accident itself and the bodily injuries that led to their sons' deaths," she said.

Caston said the legislation doesn't cover pre-accident negligence.

The lawsuit alleges the Saskatchewan government knew the rural intersection where the crash happened had visibility problems but did nothing to fix it.

A lawyer for the government had yet to address the hearing, which is scheduled to run until Friday.

Lawyers Kevin Mellor and Sharon Fox represent the hockey families.

Fox argued Tuesday that the government needs to remain on the lawsuit as a defendant.

"The substance of our application is harm to the person. Not a property interest, not an economic right. We can't fine our government. We can't throw our government in jail. So what do we have left?" she said.

"If you allow this strike application to totally erase the ability of citizens to hold their government accountable, the government has carte blanche to act with impunity."

Mellor said it's unconstitutional for the province to bar the families from continuing their lawsuit against all named defendants.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2024

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