Toronto

TTC calls for $1M subway-pushing lawsuit to be dismissed; says pusher, victim at fault

The Toronto Transit Commission is denying any responsibility for injuries to a woman pushed onto the subway tracks at Bloor-Yonge station in April, instead laying blame on the woman charged with pushing her — and on the victim herself.

Woman survived by pressing herself against platform to avoid being hit by oncoming train

TTC passengers gather outside Yonge-Bloor station on April 17, 2022 after a woman was pushed onto the subway tracks. A 45-year-old woman has been charged with attempted murder in connection with the incident. (CBC)

The Toronto Transit Commission is denying any responsibility for injuries to a woman pushed onto the subway tracks at Bloor-Yonge station in April, instead laying blame on the woman charged with pushing her — and on the victim herself.

In a statement of defence filed last week in response the $1 million lawsuit launched by plaintiff Shamsa Al-Balushi, the TTC called for the proceedings to be dismissed, saying that it is not liable for any damages.

In its statement, the TTC argues that Al-Balushi "failed to take reasonable steps and precautions for her own safety and protection" because she "chose to stand close to the edge of the platform," and "failed to pay due care and attention to her surroundings."

Video of the incident first published by BlogTO shows the victim was behind the yellow line at the edge of the subway platform when the incident occurred.

Victim shares blame for 'travelling alone': TTC lawyers

Lawyers for the TTC also claim the victim shares blame for the incident because "she was travelling alone and unassisted on public transit when she knew or ought to have known that it was unsafe for her to do so."

Darryl Singer, head of commercial and civil litigation at Diamond and Diamond lawyers, which is representing Al-Balushi, told CBC News that he "hit the roof" when he received the TTC's defence — specifically when it came to claims that his client was at fault for travelling on the subway alone, and standing too close to the edge.

"That's like blaming a rape victim for wearing a short skirt," Singer said.

"I cannot believe that they actually went so far as to draft this defence, this way."

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green declined to comment, telling CBC News that the agency does not speak about ongoing legal matters.

This screenshot from a video first published by BlogTO shows the moment before Al-Balushi, right, was pushed onto the subway tracks. (BlogTO)

The statement of defence also alleges the accused in the criminal case is liable for damages as she "acted with reckless disregard for the life and well-being of the Plaintiff" and assaulted her, alongside contravening TTC bylaws.

A 45-year-old woman was arrested at Finch GO station the day following the incident. She has been charged with attempted murder.

According to a statement of claim filed last month, Al-Balushi suffered a broken rib when she was pushed onto subway tracks on April 17, and continues to suffer ongoing back and neck pain, as well as physical and emotional trauma and insomnia. 

She survived by pressing herself against the subway platform to avoid being hit by an oncoming train.

Victim waited 30 minutes for help, claim says

According to court documents, Al-Balushi was "terrified" and "screaming in pain" after being pushed. The claim alleges she waited for approximately 30 minutes for someone to help her.

The initial claim says that while the alleged assailant who pushed Al-Balushi onto the tracks was not employed by or affiliated with the TTC, the TTC is still liable for the incident.

"The TTC is liable for the injuries that Shamsa sustained, in that it failed to implement sufficient safety protocols on the subway platform; failed to provide regular supervision of the passengers; did not have adequate surveillance of the platform; failed to promptly respond to the incident," the claim says.

Singer said the TTC could have installed a platform edge door system that only moves when a train pulls into the station, ensuring that it isn't possible to fall onto the tracks.

He also said Al-Balushi is "on her road to recovery," especially when it comes to her physical injuries.

"Psycho-emotionally, these are scars that are going to last for years and years and years, and in many ways, that's worse," he said.

With files from Ali Chiasson

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