By Connor Lynch
LONDON — The family of a pregnant woman killed in a collision with a farm tractor two years ago has filed a lawsuit, hoping to change Ontario’s farm vehicle regulations.
Twenty-six-year-old Rachel Joris was driving down Glendon Drive, west of London at Strathroy-Caradoc. At the same time, a 15-year-old boy driving a tractor and hauling a 60 ft. flat-bed trailer was turning onto Glendon Drive from Troops Road.
His tractor had cleared the lane that Joris was driving down, but the trailer had not. She hit the trailer and became wedged underneath. Paramedics found her unresponsive, and rushed her to hospital. About 90 minutes after the accident and after emergency surgery, she died. She was 11 weeks pregnant.
Her parents and her common-law husband, Richard Tusch, filed a lawsuit in late July against the then-15-year-old, his parents, their farm, the municipality, the county and the Ministry of Transportation.
Tusch’s lawyer, Phillip Millar of London-based law firm Millars Law, told Farmers Forum that the family hoped the civil lawsuit would spark a review of Ontario’s regulations around farm equipment, particularly on roadways. “Farm vehicle laws were written decades ago,” said Millar, adding that the laws need updating as farm equipment has gotten larger.
In the statement of claim, Tusch and Joris’ parents were seeking $1.1 million in damages, “special damages in amount to be disclosed before trial,” as well as costs. In it, they alleged that the farm, J&G Farms Ltd., was negligent for allowing a 15-year-old unlicensed driver on the roadways.
The lawsuit said that the municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc and Middlesex County were liable because they “failed to take reasonable and proper care of the design and maintenance of the roadway” and did not post warning signs or traffic lights, or review traffic flow. Speaking with Farmers Forum, Millar said that Troops Road was an access road that “should be closed down.”
None of the allegations have been tested in court. Millar added that the farm has filed a notice of intent to defend.
Civil suit could spark changes to farm vehicle rules on public roads
By Connor Lynch