BRITISH COLUMBIA

Bachelor Party Teasing Results In Brain Damage, $790K Bill

10/03/2015 05:35 EDT | Updated 10/03/2016 05:12 EDT
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has saddled a ball-and-chain wearing groom with more than $500,000 in damages for shoving a stranger who persistently teased him about his impending marriage.

Leelund Turner was also wearing pink tights, a lace shirt and a feather boa when a drunken Joshua Robinson accosted him in the final moments of his bachelor party in Invermere, B.C. in July 2010.

The groom insisted he was happy to be tying the knot, but when Robinson stepped in front of him, Turner pushed the 24-year-old to the ground.

Robinson suffered a brain injury when his head hit the sidewalk.

Annoying, persistent, unthreatening

In a thoughtful, 46-page decision Justice Jon Sigurdson found that even though provoked, Turner was still liable for Robinson's injuries.

"While (Robinson) was annoying, persistent and even aggressively rude to Leelund Turner, there was no threat," the judge wrote.

"Even if the action of the defendant Leelund Turner could be characterized as self-defence, which I do not think it could be, the force used by the sudden push was excessive in the circumstances."

The ruling provides an in-depth window into liability and stag parties. Sigurdson spent considerable time pondering the legal implications of the ball and chain.

Turner, his brother Laine, and their friends travelled from Red Deer, Alta. for the bachelor party. They spent the evening at Bud's Bar and Lounge before preparing to call it a night.

Laine Turner, who wasn't drinking, borrowed a 14 kg ball and chain from a friend for the occasion. Leelund Turner didn't wear it in the bar, but allowed his brother to reattach the shackle when they hit the streets at about 2 a.m.

That's when Robinson appeared.

"(He) was teasing Leeland Turner and saying disparaging things about the clothes that Leelund Turner was wearing and told him that his life was over, presumably a reference to the fact that he was was getting married," Sigurdson wrote.

"Leelund Turner responded that he loved his wife and it was good that he was getting married."

His brother's keeper?

Laine Turner was also sued.

Robinson's lawyer argued "that it is only a logical step" that a third, innocent party could be injured by the assortment of mishaps that might befall a drunken man wearing pink tights and ball and chain.

But Sigurdson found that Laine Turner couldn't have possibly known that his brother, who had no history of fighting, might shove Robinson. And besides, the groom went along with the gag.

"The defendant Laine Turner did not force Leelund Turner to wear the ball and chain or to participate in the wearing of it," Sigurdson wrote.

But while the judge dismissed the claim against Laine Turner, he found that his brother had to bear some responsibility.

In his defence, Leelund Turner argued that he was defending himself against a drunken stranger. 

He claimed Robinson was the author of his own misfortune: "Although the strange attire that Leelund Turner was wearing was an invitation for derision from bystanders, it was not an invitation to people to come up close to him or harass him."

Sigurdson agreed somewhat, reducing the damages against Leelund Turner by 30 per cent.

"Robinson must bear some responsibility because of his fault in approaching the defendant Leelund Turner and persistently teasing him at close quarters," the judge wrote.

Robinson, who now lives in Olds, Alta., was left in a coma for several days after his head hit the sidewalk.

He suffered neurological damage as a result of a brain injury which affected his personality, mental health and cognitive abilities.

Sigurdson awarded Robinson a total of $790,000 for general damages, wage loss and future care. Leelund Turner will have to pay more than $500,000.

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