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B.C. court awards woman injured in 2018 Central Saanich crash $5.5M


A B.C. judge has awarded the surviving victim of a 2018 crash in Central Saanich nearly $5.5 million in damages.

The decision – which was issued Thursday and posted online Friday – stems from the crash that killed 51-year-old Kim Ward and left her then-48-year-old sister Tracy with "catastrophic injuries." 

Anthony Leslie Jonathon Thomas, then 26, was driving a new Jeep Cherokee that belonged to Harris Victoria Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Ltd., but had been given to Aggatha Siah – a family friend of Thomas – while her financing to purchase the vehicle was pending.

In March, Thomas was found guilty of the six charges against him, including impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm. 

His sentencing hearing was scheduled for June 15 and 16. A decision on sentencing has not yet been released. 

The decision issued Thursday involved a civil proceeding between Tracy Ward and her mother and litigation guardian Ellen Ward, the plaintiffs, and Thomas, Siah and the dealership, the defendants.


B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown found that Thomas, as the person driving the vehicle, was liable for Tracy Ward's injuries. She also concluded that Siah was not yet the legal owner of the Jeep, which still belonged to the dealership, making the dealership vicariously liable for the damages.

Harris Victoria attempted to argue that Siah was the owner of the Jeep or, alternatively, that it had not consented to Thomas driving the vehicle.

Brown rejected both of these arguments, concluding that the motor vehicle purchase agreement the dealership relied upon as proof that Siah was the vehicle's owner was never intended to be a binding agreement.

In her decision, the judge described the process that led to Siah signing the agreement, noting that Harris Victoria has a policy that encourages completing transactions in a single day, allowing buyers to drive off the lot in their new vehicles.

Sometimes, when financing, registration and insurance details cannot be completed in a single day, the dealership allows buyers to take their desired vehicles anyway, in the form of an extended test drive.

While Harris Victoria argued that the purchase agreement Siah signed legally obligated her to pay the full price for the vehicle even if financing could not be secured, the employees who testified in the case indicated that the agreement was only ever intended to be a temporary measure to facilitate her driving off the lot in the Jeep.

"The Harris employees and representatives acknowledged that Ms. Siah would have understood, when signing the (motor vehicle purchase agreement), that she would be purchasing the Jeep only if acceptable financing was arranged," Brown wrote in her decision.

"If Harris is correct that the MVPA constituted a binding agreement, then that agreement is unconscionable and void."


Similarly, the judge concluded that the dealership's policy for extended test drives constituted implied consent that Thomas could drive the vehicle. She noted that Thomas often drove for members of Siah's family and thus fell within the category of people the company would reasonably expect to be driving the Jeep during the test drive period.

"Had Ms. Siah asked Harris when she acquired the Jeep or when Mr. Thomas was about to drive the Jeep whether a family member who regularly drove the family vehicles to run errands, who was 25 years old, an experienced driver with a full driver’s licence, could drive the Jeep, Harris would have said 'of course,'" Brown wrote.

"Harris wants people to drive their cars. It is in their interest to permit a prospective customer to take a car for an extended test drive, leaving the dealership with the vehicle overnight. The dealership places no limits on who may drive the vehicle in these circumstances."

That Thomas was operating on minimal sleep and had consumed Xanax and methamphetamine before getting behind the wheel is not something that was obvious to the people around him before the crash, and therefore can't be retroactively used as justification to withhold the dealership's implied consent, Brown added.


The bulk of the $5.49 million in damages for which Thomas and Harris Victoria are liable stems from the cost of future care for Ward, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the collision and has been living in a long-term care home since her post-crash hospitalization ended.

Brown awarded nearly $4 million in damages to cover the cost of future medications, transportation and medical care for Ward.

She also ordered those liable to pay $550,000 for the loss of Ward's future earning capacity, $414,000 in non-pecuniary damages, $333,235.55 in special damages and $195,600 for income Ward has already lost due to the crash. Top Stories

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