Statue of Lady Justice at Vancouver law courts. (File photo: Black Press Media)

Statue of Lady Justice at Vancouver law courts. (File photo: Black Press Media)

Oliver civil assault case tossed after years without action by lawyer

The case was filed in 2016 and left to languish over five years

After the lawyer let a lawsuit by a former Oliver bank employee languish for over more than five years, the case has been thrown out by the B.C. Supreme Court.

Crystal Lee Dias, was employed at the RBC branch in 2014 she claimed she was assaulted by Adam George Sabyan, a customer of the bank.

At the time, the 84-year-old Sabyan denied the incident took place, but according to a psychological assessment he was already suffering some cognitive impairment, particularly with his memory. Dias then filed a civil suit against Sabyan.

According to the judgment, the alleged incident was disputed as the main piece of evidence, a security video, failed to show proof that supported either side’s claims due to the angle and the lack of audio.

Now 92, he suffers from severe dementia and has resided in a full-time care facility with full-time supervision since 2020.

After filing the lawsuit in January 2016, the case followed the usual steps during civil litigation up to February 2017.

Then the delays began.

First, Dias’ lawyer Mr. Lund, as identified in the judgement, did not send the request for the police file to the RCMP until August of 2018, and after receiving the file including the security video, did not share it with Sabyan’s counsel.

Then it took until November 2019 for Lund to provide a notice of intention to proceed, asking for availability for trial dates between March and May of 2021. A week after, Sabyan’s counsel responded to confirm availability for March or May and asked to continue discovery in the spring of 2020.

They received no response.

At the same time, according to the judgement, Dias repeatedly asked Lund for updates, with many going unanswered.

“Mr. Lund and his office overlooked the file and did not get in touch with Ms. Dias for two years,” reads the judgement. “On one occasion in 2021, Ms. Dias attempted to contact Mr. Lund but was told that he was not available and would get back to her.”

The next time the file came up was when Lund issued a second notice of intention to proceed and requested availability for trial in March or September of 2023.

In response, Sabyan’s counsel applied to dismiss the case for want of prosecution in April 2022.

Dias retained different counsel, who fought the dismissal request and sought to blame any delays on Lund, arguing that she shouldn’t be denied her day in court over the failures of her lawyer.

Lund himself had admitted to dropping the ball over what he claimed was a lack of diligence.

The justice presiding over the case declined to accept Dias’ arguments, noting that she could have gotten a new lawyer much sooner.

“Thirdly, no person acting reasonably who was anxious to have her case proceed would unquestioningly accept this kind of delay in a relatively straightforward case,” reads the judgement. “Ms. Dias’ responsibility as the plaintiff included a responsibility to maintain some degree of control over the process. It had to have occurred to her that Mr. Lund was ignoring her case and was mishandling the file.”

With the decline of Sabyan’s mental faculties and the remaining dispute over what actually happened in 2014, the justice felt that there would be too much prejudice against Sabyan for a chance of a fair trial.

As a result, the case was dismissed, and Sabyan’ was granted the right to pursue his legal costs from Dias.

READ ALSO: Inattentive Osoyoos husband owes wife nearly $800,000 after he rear-ended her car

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