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Burnaby woman, 72, loses bid to sue bus driver for Metrotown bus fall

Nenita Lagrito tripped on a mobility ramp inside a Burnaby transit bus and sued the driver as well as the Coast Mountain Bus Company.
A Burnaby woman has lost her bid to sue a Coast Mountain Bus Company driver in connection with a trip-and-fall incident in October 2018.

A 72-year-old woman who tripped and fell while trying to get off a Burnaby bus more than four years ago has lost her bid to sue the bus driver and the Coast Mountain Bus Company for damages.

Nenita Lagrito and her husband Gabriel planned to bus to Metrotown for dinner on Oct. 19, 2018, according to a ruling in B.C. Supreme Court last Thursday.  

Shortly after stepping onto the number 130 bus at Halifax Street and Willingdon Avenue, however, she tried to step back off.

That's when she tripped on a mobility ramp and fell onto the floor of the bus, sustaining “some injuries” as a result, according to the March 30 ruling.

Lagrito said she had decided to get off the bus because a passenger trying to get out the front door with a wheelchair prevented her from going further in and the wheelchair wouldn’t have been able to get out with Lagrito in the way.

Lagrito sued the bus driver, Gordon Bettiol, and his employer, Coast Mountain Bus Company, alleging Bettiol breached a duty of care by not warning her he was deploying the ramp and failing to make sure the area was clear.

The parties agreed to $68,623.57 in damages if Bettiol and Coast Mountain were found liable in the case.

But Bettiol, a 23-year Coast Mountain driver with a clean driving record, and Coast Mountain said the accident was caused “solely by Ms. Lagrito’s negligence and misfortune.”

Bettiol said Lagrito passed him after she entered the bus behind her husband, and Bettiol assumed she would continue down the aisle to locate a seat.

But she then “shocked and surprised” him, when she appeared right next to him as he was deploying the ramp for the wheelchair, according to the ruling.

“He did not know where she came from,” states the ruling. “He shouted at her to stop and stuck his arm out to stop her, but she had already stepped forward and tripped.”

The bus’s security video captured the incident, which lasted a matter of seconds, according to the ruling.

Based on the testimony and the security video, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick concluded Lagrito had made a “split-second decision” to turn around and leave the bus, ignoring the alarm sounds buses make when the ramp is deployed.

“The significant difficulty with Ms. Lagrito’s argument is the suggestion that Mr. Bettiol should have predicted the very unusual behaviour of Ms. Lagrito in not only acting as she did, but acting suddenly and without warning, after having ignored clear signals through the alarm sound that the ramp was being deployed,” Fitzpatrick said.

She found no negligence on the part of Bettiol or Coast Mountain.

She declined to award damages and ordered Lagrito to pay the defendants' court costs.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor