Lawsuit filed against Winnipeg car thieves involved in fatal crash

Manitoba Public Insurance is launching a lawsuit against 11 youths and a young man in connection to the death of a Winnipeg cab driver.

Manitoba Public Insurance has launched a lawsuit against 11 youths and a young man in connection with the death of a Winnipeg cab driver.

Antonio Lanzellotti was killed instantly after a stolen Chevy Avalanche sped through a red light on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg and slammed into his taxi in March 2008. The SUV was racing a separate group of teen car thieves just moments before the crash.

MPI is seeking more than $50,000 from the youths to recover the loss of Lanzellotti's taxi and the equipment inside, the SUV the group stole, and another car they badly damaged.

"The public may look at it as a measure of revenge, but from our perspective, we're sending a message to auto thieves that their actions are accountable and they will have long-term consequences," said Brian Smiley, spokesman for MPI.

None of the allegations in the lawsuit has been proven in court.

The lawsuits may have to wait a while before they proceed as many of the youths being sued by MPI are already in jail, convicted for their role in Lanzellotti's death.