Westboro bus crash survivor sues city for $19M

An Ottawa woman who lost both legs in January's double-decker bus crash at Westboro station is suing the city for $19 million.

Marcelle Stevens lost both legs in January collision that killed 3

First responders work at the scene of the double-decker OC Transpo bus crash on Jan. 11. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

An Ottawa woman who lost both legs in January's double-decker bus crash at Westboro station is suing the city for $19 million.

Three people died in the crash and many more, including Marcelle Stevens, were severely injured.

Stevens was riding on the second floor of the bus that afternoon when it plowed into an overhang, crushing her legs. She underwent multiple surgeries, including having both legs amputated above the knee.

"She wants to live as full a life as she can," said her lawyer, Meghan Hull Jacquin.

"This amount of money that's being claimed sounds huge, but if you put yourself in her position ... the amounts that are needed to help her with day-to-day activities, it adds up really quickly."

Future medical expenses

Stevens will need prosthetics, an accessible vehicle and modifications to her family home. She may also face further medical expenses for treatment and therapy over the coming decades, Hull Jacquin said.

Stevens, her husband and two boys filed the statement of claim in court on May 21.

Stevens in claiming $15 million in damages, plus another $2 million in punitive damages. Her husband and sons, meanwhile, are seeking $2 million due to the change in the quality of their relationship with her.

"So can mom not help the boys into bed in the same way? Did they used to enjoy — and they did — going out on bike rides together, and now she's not going to be able to participate in that activity?" Hull Jacquin said.

Advance compensation paid

According to the statement of claim, which hasn't been proven in court, the City of Ottawa, OC Transpo and the bus driver in the Jan. 11 collision, Aissatou Diallo, were negligent.

The claim includes a number of allegations about the city and the driver in order to cover all bases, Hull Jacquin explained, because she has so far not received disclosure from police.

Like Gwen Lambert, who was also injured in the crash and has filed a separate lawsuit, Stevens has already received an advance payment from the city, her lawyer said.

"It is not common for a defendant to give an advance in a lawsuit, at least early in these early stages," Hull Jacquin said. She would not disclose the amount.

"I think that it is an acknowledgement, on behalf of the defendants, just about the fact that [the victims'] lives have been thrown into turmoil."

Hull Jacquin said for her client's sake, she hopes to see the matter settled out of court.

"She's a pretty amazing person," Hull Jacquin said. "I deal with these cases all the time, and the inspiration that [Stevens and her husband] give is unreal, how they work as a team and how they say, 'This is the hand we've been dealt, and we're going to play this hand.' It's very, very inspiring."