The teenage driver of a pickup truck carrying 14 temporary farm workers who were injured when the vehicle tumbled down an embankment and rolled several times has been found negligent in the accident.
Adrianna (Annie) Lee Browne, who was 18 at the time of the November 2006 accident, was doing a favour for her family when she transported the workers from an egg farm back to their homeless shelter in Kamloops.
A few minutes after leaving the farm, the truck left Long Lake Road and plunged down the embankment.
One man suffering compression fractures to his vertebrae, two cracked collarbones and a cracked sternum. Another man suffered a spinal fracture, collapsed and punctured lungs, fractured ribs and a detached retina. A woman suffered a fractured hip and both pelvises.
Most of the workers, who were paid $10 an hour, were seated in the box of the truck and not wearing seatbelts.
In a ruling released Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Hope Hyslop concluded that Browne drove carelessly and too fast, and by doing so lost control of the pickup.
"I find that Annie was negligent. Her novice license, as opposed to a full license, had nothing to do with why the accident occurred. Given her age, she was an experienced driver and drove every day. She was very familiar with the route from the (shelter) to the farm and back, particularly along Long Lake Road."
The defendants argued that 10 of the plaintiffs contributed to the negligence by getting into the box of the truck and not wearing seatbelts.
But the judge said most of the workers were poor, homeless, on social assistance and addicted to drugs or alcohol, or both.
She said Annie told them that if they didn't get into the truck, they would have to walk home — 15 kilometres in the dark and cold.
The judge also found Debra Lee Browne, the mother of Annie and the registered owner of the truck, to be vicariously liable for the negligence of her daughter.
She found that the egg farm did not cause or contribute to the accident.
The case proceeded to trial with 13 of the plaintiffs making claims. The 14th claim was dismissed for want of prosecution.
Damages have yet to be assessed in the case.