A British woman was awarded $38,100 by B.C.'s Supreme Court for psychological issues related to a 2008 Whistler gondola collapse.
The 27-year-old British citizen Amy Sefton was snowboarding at Whistler Blackcomb on Dec. 16, 2008. She was a passenger with her boyfriend and two others in an Excalibur gondola cabin when a supporting tower collapsed. The cabin dropped rapidly in two stages, causing the passengers to be thrown about, but never reached the ground. The passengers were trapped for several hours before being rescued.
Sefton suffered injuries to her neck, back and thigh, and experienced soreness in her knees as a result of the incident. She also sought treatment for psychological issues including anxiety and depression.
Supreme Court Justice Allan Betton awarded Sefton $35,000 for non-pecuniary/general damages, $2,500 for costs of future care and $600 for special damages related to past treatment and damaged ski clothes.
In his decision Benton noted: "My own observations of the plaintiff during her evidence were of a person who has been affected by the incident. She frequently struggled to control her emotions when describing the changes in herself that she has experienced as a result of the incident."
Dr. Kulwant Singh Riar, who examined Sefton, noted in an October report that "she experienced symptoms of (post-traumatic stress disorder), which evolved into symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder by fall of 2009. Those symptoms continued to bother her, and were still quite bothersome by fall of 2010."
He added that Sefton also showed symptoms of depression following the accident.
The amount awarded by the court was less than the amount requested by Sefton and her lawyer, Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, who suggested around $90,000 in general damages, with an additional $40,000 for loss of earnings, $2,500 for future care and $850 for special damages.
Eight of the 11 lawsuits resulting from the gondola accident have already been settled out of court.
The decision was made May 3 in a Vancouver B.C. Supreme Court. The suit against Intrawest, Whistler Blackcomb and Doppelmayr went to trial last month.