A Penticton woman who uses a wheel chair has launched a civil lawsuit against Air Canada, claiming the airline company acted negligently after employees lifted her out of her wheelchair without her consent prior to her return flight from Vancouver to Penticton in 2018.
According to documents obtained by the Western News, the lawsuit filed last week in Penticton Supreme Court alleges Bonnie Hayes, a psychologist, was injured when two Air Canada employees “unilaterally” decided to lift her into an airplane seat, causing her immediate pain and damage to her shoulders and upper arms.
“Dr. Hayes cried out in pain during the incident and one of the two men involved, apologized,” states the lawsuit.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
According to the statement of claim, Hayes had requested a seat with an armrest that could be elevated - a similar request that had been accommodated on the initial flight from Penticton to Vancouver three days earlier on Dec. 11, 2018, which allowed her to safely transition from the wheelchair to the aircraft seat.
“The injuries, loss and damage have caused and continue to cause Dr. Hayes pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of earnings, past and prospective and expense for medical treatment,” states the lawsuit.
“All of the injuries, loss and and damage were caused or contributed to by the negligence of the Defendant (Air Canada).”
It also states that Hayes continues to undergo medical care and treatment and members of her family have performed household duties, nursing and other services. As a result, she has experienced direct economic loss because of the time and effort that went into performing those duties, states the suit.
According to information in the suit, the unspecified relief sought includes general damages for pain, suffering, loss of amenities and loss of enjoyment of life. The suit also claims lost income, loss of opportunity to earn income, special damages and damages payable in trust for those who provided services for her.
The suit alleges Air Canada acted negligently by failing to take any reasonable care to ensure that passengers who require extra assistance in boarding would be reasonably safe, and for failing to train its agents and employees properly.
“Failing to get informed consent from Dr. Hayes prior to transferring her from her wheelchair to her seat and unilaterally and improperly transferring Dr. Hayes from her wheelchair to her seat thereby exposing her to damage or injury which the defendant knew or ought to have known would have resulted,” the lawsuit states.
Attempts to contact the doctor were unsuccessful and Air Canada did not respond to an interview request.
As of press time, Air Canada had not filed a response to the civil claim, having 21 days to do so from the Dec. 12, 2019, filing date and had not returned requests for comment on the matter.