Friday, May 02, 2008

Assault victim sues city over C-Train safety

Joel Kom, Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2008
A man whose violent beating near a C-Train station left him with short-term memory loss and a broken eye socket is suing the City of Calgary for more than $150,000, saying it failed in its duty to keep the transit system safe.

Kyle McAllister, now 19, went with a female friend to the Canyon Meadows C-Train station to pick up her brother early on New Year's Day 2007.

McAllister was walking along the pedestrian overpass when a man started pushing him.

"He swung at me and we started fighting," said McAllister. "I was holding my own."

One of the stranger's friends broke up the fight -- then sucker-punched McAllister.

Around eight people were soon kicking and punching him, knocking him unconscious. "Another kick probably would have killed me," said Tuesday.

McAllister missed work as a driller for nine days and wasn't the same when he went back, he said. He writes things down to remember them because his memory has suffered.

McAllister is suing the city because, he says, it didn't live up to its end of the transit bargain for New Year's.

"The interpretation from the city was that it would be free and it would be safe," he said. "It was free. It wasn't safe."

He's seeking $4,602.73 in expenses and lost income, $150,000 in damages and an unspecified amount for future expenses. None of the accusations have been proven in court.

He denied the lawsuit is a cash grab -- adding legal fees are eating up much of his money.

"We're trying to make a difference here," he said.

"Hopefully, they can set up some security."

McAllister said the city didn't warn anybody about safety risks at the stations and failed to have security at Canyon Meadows on the night of the attack.

City staff denies all liability, saying it does all it can to keep the system safe.

"We believe it was made as safe as possible," said city lawyer Colleen Sinclair. "There's no way the city can prevent all crime on the C-Train system."

It was video surveillance that helped nab some of those who attacked McAllister, she added.

One person was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to 18 months in jail, McAllister said. Another was acquitted of robbery, while a third's trial is scheduled for September.

C-Train safety has been an issue recently, particularly after Arcelie Laoagan was found dead near the Franklin station after taking the C-Train home from downtown in January.

No court date has been set for McAllister's lawsuit.