CASE LAW - Felix v ICBC

BC Courts Coat of ArmsMarnetta Felix and her boyfriend Kevin Hearne attended a soccer tournament. Following his last game of the day Kevin went to the concession and started drinking beer. He consumed enough over the next two or more hours that he became quite intoxicated. At one point he saw Marnette with her arm around another man and became angry. When they left the tournament, Marnetta driving and Kevin as passenger the two began to argue. Twice during the argument Kevin grabbed the steering wheel but let go without affecting the direction of the car's travel. The third time Kevin grabbed the wheel resulted in a collision that injured Marnetta and resulted in his death.

Marnetta sued Kevin's estate and won a judgment for $863,242.63. The estate was not sufficient to cover the award, so Marnetta took action against ICBC. Mr. Justice A. Saunders ruled "that Mr. Hearne, as a passenger in the plaintiff’s vehicle, was not engaged in use of the vehicle within the meaning of s. 64. The defendant is under no obligation to indemnify the Hearne estate, and the plaintiff’s claim must therefore fail."

This case has been widely reported in BC as this could be the outcome of a mishap where a designated driver was involved in a collision as the result of the actions of an inebriated passenger they had volunteered to return home safely. The provincial government has announced that there may be reconsideration of this law requiring ICBC to cover damages of this nature in the future.

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