After a pickup truck was stolen from a Vancouver dealership and subsequently involved in several serious accidents, the dealership faced charges — and was found partially at fault in the subsequent lawsuit. What happened, and what does this mean for the victims of auto accidents with unusual circumstances, such as theft at a dealership?
How a Car Was Stolen From a Dealership
In 2012, an employee at the Dueck Downtown Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership left a pickup truck running, with keys in the ignition. According to testimony, the vehicle remained there for roughly forty minutes, before the thief, David James Bolton got in the truck and drove off toward Richmond.
At some point during Bolton’s joyride, Dueck staff realized the truck had been stolen from the lot. Using the truck’s internal GPS, they were able to share location information with law enforcement, who went to apprehend Bolton and retrieve the vehicle. RCMP officers attempted to stop Bolton, but he backed into an RCMP car and drove off. During the incident, two RCMP cars were struck and one officer sustained injuries.
A high-speed car chase then ensued. In the chase, Bolton crashed into a third vehicle, seriously injuring a woman and totaling her car. He drove around a spike belt and across a bridge, with the truck damaged and billowing smoke. Bolton hopped out of the stolen truck, started running, and tried to steal another car from a dealership when he was finally apprehended.
The injured officer, Constable Quinn Provost, sued both Bolton and the Dueck dealership. The injured female driver, Brandy Brundige, sued Bolton, the Dueck dealership, and the RCMP who were unable to halt Bolton’s spree. A third suit was filed by Canada’s Attorney General, who owned the RCMP vehicles damaged by Bolton, against Dueck and Bolton.
How the Courts Found a Dealer at Fault
A Supreme Court Justice, Stephen Kelleher, found the dealer partially at fault. Since they left the truck with keys in the ignition, for an extended period of time, it was reasonable to foresee the vehicle could have been stolen. Judge Kelleher believed the dealer was obligated to secure all vehicles in its car lot, and had breached their duty by leaving the GMC Sierra K2500 pickup truck running for forty minutes. This breach of duty was partially to blame for the incident; if the car had been properly secured, neither Provost nor Brundige would have been harmed.
The justice awarded Dueck 15 percent liability in each of the cases. The RCMP were found 15 percent liable in Brundige’s suit, and Bolton, who passed away while the case was still in process, was awarded the majority of the liability.
How the Case Affects Your Standing
If you were hurt in an auto accident that involved a stolen car, this case gives precedent to suing the car owner for breach of duty. If you were in an auto accident, seek legal help from a B.C. auto accident attorney with demonstrated experience with ICBC claims and car accident settlements.
Whether you plan to sue or pursue a car accident settlement, unusual judgments like this have the potential to affect the outcome of your case. Learn more about our experience handling unusual auto accident claims, or call today: 604-737-3300.