Woman pushed off LRT platform launches $1.1M lawsuit against City of Edmonton, transit service

·3 min read
Sharda Naidu, 78, was punched and pushed off the Health Services/Jubilee LRT station at the end of April. (Jamie McCannel/CBC - image credit)
Sharda Naidu, 78, was punched and pushed off the Health Services/Jubilee LRT station at the end of April. (Jamie McCannel/CBC - image credit)

The 78-year-old woman who was pushed off the platform and onto the tracks at Health Sciences/Jubilee LRT station in late April is suing the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Transit Service for $1.1 million.

Sharda Devi Naidu, who worked at the University of Alberta hospital, suffered serious injuries after she was punched and pushed off the LRT platform at 83rd Avenue and 114th Street on April 25.

A 20-year-old man has been charged with aggravated assault in the incident.

Lawyers representing Naidu filed a civil suit with the Queen of Court's Bench June 17, alleging the city's negligence led to the attack and subsequent injuries.

Basil Bansal, lawyer for Diamond and Diamond LLP, said they believe the attack could have been prevented.

"We feel the City of Edmonton and the transit authority should have actually done certain steps and taken certain measures that could have prevented this."

The suit claims the city failed to ensure a safe environment in several ways: a lack of guardrails on the LRT platforms, an absence of regular supervision of the area and inadequate surveillance and monitoring of the platform.

Bansal said he believes installing barriers or guardrails on the platform above the track could help deter intentional pushing.

Submitted by Irene Davis
Submitted by Irene Davis

The onus is on the city and Edmonton transit to provide a safe transit system, he argued.

"This is more about rider safety and safety for the public," Bansal said.

Brother blames city

Ram Mudalier, Naidu's brother, said his sister was released from hospital and is recovering from injuries but she still uses a walker or a wheelchair to get around.

He thinks the whole incident could've been prevented.

"I blame the city for what happened to Sharda," Mudalier told CBC News.

Before the attack, Naidu worked at hospitals for decades, most recently at the University of Alberta hospital as a porter. Mudalier said it's unclear when or if she can work again.

The lawsuit says Naidu suffers from injuries to her back, knees, feet, legs and hips, and has chronic pain and numbness.

She's faced with loss of past and future income, earning capacity, costs of rehabilitation care and housekeeping capacity, and general enjoyment of life, the lawsuit says.

The suit also suggests the defendants failed to respond promptly to the incident, failed to reach Naidu in a reasonable time and failed to allow emergency services timely access to the tracks.

"There was a significant delay in getting her the medical attention that she needed," Bansal said. "That's something that should have been attended to and addressed more quickly."

Safety steps

The law firm received the filed lawsuit from the courthouse Tuesday.

It had not served the city the formal statement of claim at publication time but Bansal said Diamond and Diamond will do that promptly.

Michelle Plouffe, the city solicitor sent a statement to CBC News Tuesday.

"The criminal incident in April was a tragedy for Ms. Naidu, and we continue to extend our condolences to her and her family," Plouffe said. "We will handle the lawsuit in accordance with normal processes and review it carefully."

The suit also lists John Doe I and John Doe II as defendants, and ABC Corporation and XYZ Corporation. This allows other companies or individuals to be added directly to the lawsuit at a future point.

The lawsuit comes as the city continues to tackle ongoing safety concerns on transit, downtown and in Chinatown.

It released a formal safety plan earlier this month, which includes more patrols and authority for peace officers to intervene and remove people from transit stations if they're found they're not using transit.

Mudalier said the city should have taken the steps earlier.

"Even [the] visibility of police within the transit system at stations where people are waiting for a ride, will provide a measure of protection to other passengers," Mudalier said.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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