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Sask. man's lawsuit is thrown out after he misses a call from court


A Saskatoon man's lawsuit against his travel agent was dismissed because he missed a call from the courthouse.

Rostam Alawis claimed his travel agent made mistakes on his family's tickets to Iraq that resulted in two missed flights. He was seeking $12,530 in damages.

On May 29, 2023, the matter was in front of a judge at Saskatoon Provincial Court. Both parties were supposed to appear by phone.

Alawis said he was eagerly waiting for the call, but never received it.

The court clerk attempted to call Alawis "multiple" times, according to court records.

Because the plaintiff couldn't be reached, the case was dismissed.

Alawis said after 11:30 a.m., he called the courthouse. That’s when he realized his phone was on airplane mode — a setting that disables cellular connection.

"My phone was on airplane mode accidentally without me knowing," Alawis said.

Alawis said he doesn't know why his phone was on this setting.

“I don’t know how it happened.”

Alawis initially maintained the court never called him, and his phone provider confirmed he had no incoming calls that morning. He later explained his phone was on airplane mode.

"So, essentially, I have two explanations from Mr. Alawis. One of them is contradicted by the court record and the other is not an adequate explanation," the judge ruled.

The judge found that airplane mode is "unfortunate, but it does not constitute a reasonable excuse for not appearing."

"Similar to if someone forgot the date, or came at the wrong time, or something similar, the court does not consider that to be reasonable excuse."

Alawis appealed the judge's decision and took the matter to Saskatoon's Court of King's Bench.

Justice Naheed Bardai sided with the provincial court judge.

"The judge was not satisfied with Mr. Alawis' somewhat evolving explanation. I find no reversible error in that conclusion," Bardai ruled on March 20.

"I do not accept that checking the settings on his cell phone was beyond Mr. Alawis' control."

Defence lawyer Ari Goldkind says there are situations where courts can forgive missed appearances.

"There is, particularly in the civil court system, a tremendous amount of grace if there are legitimate reasons for missing a court appearance — a car accident, a medical emergency, childcare or daycare obligations that pop up," Goldkind told CTV News.

Goldkind said Alawis's reasoning was missing due diligence.

Alawis doesn't believe it's fair for his case to be dismissed over a missed call, and thinks some sort of penalty would be appropriate.

"I've been victimized. Me and my family, we are a victim of a travel agency person who is not doing his job professionally,” Alawis said.

"I missed a phone call. I understand that I shouldn't have, but it happened. Why not let me come back to the justice system?" Top Stories

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