'No one patrolling the station': City found liable for decade-old attack at C-Train station

A judge has ruled the City of Calgary is liable for an assault that happened in the Plus-15 at the Canyon Meadows C-Train station more than a decade ago.

Kyle McAllister left with concussion, facial fractures and broken bones after 20-minute beating in 2007

Inadequate security patrols, low lighting and poor surveillance videos all contributed to a prolonged attack at the Canyon Meadows C-Train station in 2007, a court has found. (David Bell/CBC)

A judge has ruled the City of Calgary is liable for an assault that happened in a C-Train station Plus-15 more than a decade ago.  

Kyle McAllister was left with a severe concussion, broken orbital bones, several facial fractures, 40 stitches and damage to his teeth after he was beaten for more than 20 minutes in the Plus-15 at the Canyon Meadows C-Train station in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2007.

Despite the length of the attack, and multiple assailants, Calgary Transit officers were unaware it took place until days later, when McAllister's father reported it. 

Two of the assailants, who were youths at the time of the attack, were charged and convicted.

According to the decision, poor lighting in the Plus-15, inadequate video surveillance and understaffed transit patrols all contributed to the city's failure to meet its standard of care for a safe and secure transit environment.

"You had cameras that didn't work properly, an inability to monitor them, and almost no one patrolling the C-Train station on one of the busier nights of the year," McAllister's lawyer, Robert Martz, told the Calgary Eyeopener Thursday.

One factor in the decision was the city had encouraged revellers to take public transportation on New Year's Eve, and yet failed to staff the system to account for the increase in ridership and the prevalence of intoxicated patrons, Martz said.

Only two officers were on duty to patrol the entire C-Train line after 12:30 a.m. on New Years Day 2007, Martz said, far short of the 12 officers that typically patrol the line on early weekend mornings.

City found responsible

"The city was inviting people on New Year's Eve to take the train and I think everybody knows that people are out having a good time on New Year's Eve, often intoxicated," he said.

"The notion you would staff a New Year's Eve the same way you would staff a typical Sunday night was definitely one of the things the judge considered."

The judge also said there was an inadequate number of staff monitoring footage from the 332 surveillance cameras along the C-Train line, and that the footage flashed too quickly across 42 screens for security personnel to take notice of the attack.

"Combined with the poor quality of the video, the rapid change in images on small screens compounded the problem with detection of the assault as it occurred," wrote Justice J.C. Kubik in her decision. "The fact that the assault was not observed at all by video monitoring personnel despite its length evidences that the system and personnel were insufficient to allow detection."

Martz said one of the reasons McAllister brought the suit against the city was to see safety improvements made across the C-Train line and his client is pleased that a full safety audit of the system took place after the incident. In the decade since the attack, lighting, cameras and security patrols have all been improved.

"It's a very different system than it was 10 years ago," Martz said.

He said he could not discuss whether McAllister has fully recovered from his injuries since that matter is still before the courts. Any compensation for damages to be awarded to McAllister will be determined at a later date, he said.

The City of Calgary's legal department has said is currently reviewing the details of the decision and evaluating next steps.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener