On the evening of November 7, 2012, Rosalind Conrad and her
friend Kelly Rideout were taking in the uptown Saint John
nightlife. They both had a few drinks early in the evening, and
then went to a bar for more drinks.
Ms. Conrad became separated from Ms. Rideout while at the bar.
However when they met up outside Ms. Conrad's car at the end of
the night, Ms. Rideout appeared sober and asked if she could drive
Ms. Conrad's car home. Ms. Conrad asked if Ms. Rideout was
sober. Then the two began to head home with Ms. Rideout
Unfortunately, while travelling across the Harbour Bridge, Ms.
Rideout rear-ended another car, causing more than $18,000.00 in
damage to Ms. Conrad's vehicle. Ms. Rideout was arrested by
police upon suspicion of driving while impaired. This criminal
charge was later dropped.
However, Ms. Conrad's insurer, Wawanesa Mutual Insurance,
denied coverage for the repairs. It alleged that Ms. Rideout was
impaired by alcohol at the time of the collision, and, further,
that Ms. Conrad knew or should have known that Ms. Rideout was
intoxicated when allowing her to drive.
At trial, Mr. Justice Grant ruled in favour of Ms. Conrad,
stating that it was her insurer's duty to justify its refusal
of benefits. In order to prove its case, the insurer had to prove
on the balance of probabilities:
That Ms. Rideout while driving was
impaired by alcohol to such an extent that she could not properly
control Ms. Conrad's vehicle; and
That it was unreasonable for Ms.
Conrad to believe that Ms. Rideout was sober and capable of driving
in these circumstances.
As the materials from Ms. Rideout's criminal charges were
deemed inadmissible at this trial, Ms. Conrad's insurer did not
have any evidence save for Ms. Conrad's recollection of events
prior to the crash. Without the necessary evidence, Ms.
Conrad's insurer was ordered to pay out the claim, along with
costs and interest.
You can read Conrad v. Wawanesa Mutual Insurance, 2015
NBQB 14 in its entirety here.
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