SGI sues bars who served alcohol to Catherine McKay
July 6, 2017
SGI filed a statement of claim in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench today against two Saskatoon liquor establishments that served Catherine McKay Jan. 2-3, 2016.
Information relayed in McKay's criminal proceedings revealed she had been served alcohol at both Industrial Kitchen & Bar and Crackers Licensed Cocktail & Dining Room that night.
Court heard evidence that McKay's blood alcohol concentration was nearly three times the legal limit when the vehicle she was driving collided with the car carrying four members of the Van de Vorst family Jan. 3, 2016. Jordan and Chanda Van de Vorst died at the scene. Their son Miguire, 2, died in hospital shortly thereafter, while their daughter Kamryn, 5, died the next day.
"This legal action is about accountability for a collision that killed an entire family. The person who chooses to drive impaired clearly is accountable for their actions. But we need to recognize that if a person is impaired, their judgment is also impaired. Those around them need to take action to ensure no lives are put at risk," said Earl Cameron, Executive Vice-President of SGI.
"When a business is selling alcohol for profit, there is a higher degree of responsibility to prevent the customers they serve from posing a danger to others and themselves. Because no one stopped Catherine McKay from getting behind the wheel, four people died."
Cameron added SGI will pursue similar actions against other liquor establishments in comparable cases when the evidence supports it.
"This is a case of contributory negligence. There are laws in place to hold impaired drivers accountable, with jail time, fines and other consequences. We believe that the circumstances of this case are so egregious and the results so tragic, that the establishments who failed to take sufficient actions to prevent it need to be held accountable," Cameron said, adding SGI also plans to file suit against McKay.
This is the first time SGI has pursued a legal action of this nature against liquor establishments, but action of this nature is not unprecedented.
"In jurisdictions across Canada, we are seeing more rulings where courts are placing increasing accountability on liquor establishments to ensure impaired patrons do not cause harm to others or themselves," Cameron said. "A recent BC case, Widdowson versus Rockwell, saw the courts find a Vancouver pub 25 per cent liable for a crash where an impaired patron could not safely operate his vehicle and hit a pedestrian, causing serious brain injury."
Cameron added that SGI commends all the Saskatchewan liquor establishments who work to ensure the safety of their customers and others on the road – by calling a safe ride for them, and in some instances even providing that safe ride at their own cost.
Alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all fatal traffic collisions in Saskatchewan. Over the last decade, more than 600 people have been killed and more than 4,000 injured in collisions involving alcohol in our province.
Manager, Media Relations
Saskatchewan Government Insurance