Parents of Vernon nurse killed in drunk driving crash win civil case | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon News

Parents of Vernon nurse killed in drunk driving crash win civil case

The parents of a Kelowna nurse killed by a drunk driver in Vernon in 2014 have successfully sued the driver, a pub, and a strip club for $90,000.

Kelowna residents Brian and Michelle Smith took convicted drunk driver Lori Victoria Kathleen Vance, along with the Village Green Pub, and On the Roxx Show Lounge to court, arguing their daughter's death had caused them financial loss.

The Smiths argued their daughter, Erin Smith, had arranged to purchase their home to help them out financially.

According to a Jan. 12 B.C. Supreme Court decision, Justice Allan Betton said it was impossible to calculate the precise financial loss Brian and Michelle had endured due to Erin's death.

Brian and Michelle said they had an agreement with Erin to purchase their home to help them out financially before she died.

This agreement never took place because Erin was killed when she was struck by a drunk driver in 2014.

Erin, 33, was working at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital and while out on a coffee break in the early hours of the morning with a colleague, her car was T-boned by Vance.

Vance had been drinking heavily at the Village Green Pub in Vernon and was driving, sometimes at nearly twice the speed limit when she hit Erin's car after running a red light.

Erin was killed in the crash, and her friend and colleague Lindsay Hauck was seriously injured.

In 2017 Vance was sentenced to three years in jail after she pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death, and impaired driving causing bodily harm.

The majority of the Jan. 12 decision goes over the financial details of a potential agreement for Erin to purchase her parent's house and then rent it back to them for the next 25 years.

According to the decision, Erin had loaned her parents, who were both retired, almost $30,000 in the few years previous to her death.

Erin's parents argued an award of $500,000 was appropriate because that was the amount they'd lost by Erin not being able to purchase their home.

The defendants argued an award for the loss of financial and household support should be in the range of $5,000 to $25,000.

The decision discusses at length a range of complex financial scenarios and whether or not Erin would have gone ahead with the proposed financial agreement.

"I have no doubt that Erin would have provided assistance to (her parents)," Justice Betton said in the decision. "While I do find there was a possibility Erin would have proceeded with the acquisition of the home, I am unable to find it would have been on the basis of the proposal relied on as the foundation of (her parents’) arguments."

Citing many "variables and contingencies," Justice Betton says a "precise calculation of financial loss is not possible."

"As can be seen, there are a wide range of possible paths (Brian and Michelle) and Erin may have followed. They range from a decision not to proceed to retain the home at all, to some form of arrangement loosely based on what was proposed by (Brian and Michelle)," Justice Betton said in the decision. "In my view, there is no evidentiary foundation to calculate the likelihood of any particular scenario in any mathematical way."

With that, the Justice decided on an award of $90,000.

The decision doesn't touch on how and why the Village Green Pub or On the Roxx Show Lounge is responsible and says the liability was resolved on terms not disclosed to the court.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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