Pubdate: Wed, 26 Jul 2006
Source: Terrace Standard (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Terrace Standard
Author: Margaret Speirs
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


A Lawyer representing the families of two men killed when a driver
believed to be high on crystal meth slammed into them, will submit his
arguments for financial compensation for the men's dependents to the
Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) by the end of the month.

Wes Mussio, who's representing the families of Dean Vaughn Gansen and
Richard Bruce Brown, is confident that he will win the argument of
whether ICBC owes a payout to the families of the two deceased.

"On these cases where a guy was potentially working, it's about the
best situation you can have," Mussio said July 19.

Just before 5 a.m. on Aug. 27, 2004, David James Hart of Abbotsford
was travelling northbound on Hwy97 near Deep Creek, B.C. when his
semi-trailer unit collided head-on with the tractor trailer of Gansen
and Brown, who were travelling southbound. The crash started a fire
that burned up Hart's vehicle.

A toxicology report, which was part of the coroner's report, indicated
that Hart, 33, had high blood levels of methamphetamine and
amphetamine and detectable levels of cocaine in his system at the time
of the accident.

The pathologist who prepared the report suggested that Hart abused
methamphetamine and stated that paranoid psychosis associated with
methamphetamine abuse might have played a role in the crash, the
coroner said in his findings.

Hart also had a history of driving offences and drug use, the coroner

A mechanical inspection on Gansen's vehicle did not find anything that
could have contributed to the accident. Hart's vehicle could not be
inspected due to the heavy damage and extent of the blaze.

Mussio said that ICBC was trying to argue that the illegal drugs found
in Hart's body were work-related.

"One of the arguments they're trying to make is that using crystal
meth is part of your job as a truck driver," Mussio said. "It's not
part of a truck driver's job. It's interesting that ICBC would take
the tactic that part of your job is to take drugs. If the WCAT came
back and said 'you're right', [it would] sound a little odd."

Another part of ICBC's argument is that the crystal meth put Hart into
a paranoid state and therefore he's not responsible for his actions.

Mussio believes that the board will take three to five months to
render its decision.

If it does not rule in his favour, he won't appeal and doubts the
defence will appeal either if it loses.

"Unfortunately the way the system works is the WCB has the final say
in situations of worker versus worker," he said.

It's difficult to appeal unless the decision is "outlandish" because
Mussio would have to show that there was an administrative error.

"You never know. Unlike court where there's some predictability, the
WCAT is unpredictable," he said, adding the WCAT doesn't have to
follow previous precedents unlike the regular court system.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin