Drug dealer successfully sued by overdose victim
Crystal meth put victim in coma after she had heart attack
Chris Purdy, CanWest News Service
January 08, 2008
January 08, 2008
SASKATOON — A woman who overdosed on crystal methamphetamine in rural Saskatchewan has successfully sued the man who gave her the drug in what is believed to be the first legal victory of its kind in Canada.
“It was frustrating not having anything done through the criminal system,” said 23-year-old Sandy Bergen, who has been drug- and alcohol-free since the 2004 incident in her hometown of Biggar, which is about 90 kilometres west of Saskatoon.
“Financially, I’m not really going to gain from it. But it’s a way of holding him responsible.”
Bergen and her parents launched the negligence suit against Clinton Davey in 2005, asking for more than $50,000 in medical costs and other damages.
Bergen suffered a heart attack during the overdose and spent 11 days in a coma. Now living in Saskatoon, she speaks at high schools about the dangers of crystal meth.
Last Friday, a Court of Queen’s Bench judge in Saskatoon agreed to strike Davey’s statement of defence in the case, which essentially finds him legally responsible.
A hearing will now be scheduled to determine what amount of money the court will award.
“To my knowledge, it’s the first case that’s gone anywhere against a drug dealer,” said Bergen’s lawyer, Stuart Busse.
Busse said he asked the court to strike Davey’s statement of defence and find him in contempt of court for not answering questions about where he got his drugs.
The unknown drug supplier, John Doe, was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
In court documents, Davey said he could not remember the name of his drug supplier, although he could recall other details about the night of Bergen’s overdose.
Busse said he believes Davey received threats, so he was likely fearing for his safety when he refused to answer questions about his drug supplier.
Davey did admit he gave Bergen crystal meth, but said the cash she gave him was for cigarettes, not the drug.
Davey’s grandmother, Dalis Davey, was also named in the civil suit because the overdose happened in her home. But Busse said he may drop her as a defendant. He said if the drug supplier is identified in the future, he can still be held liable.
The precedent-setting case could pave the way for similar lawsuits across Canada.
Busse said he has already talked to a woman from Nova Scotia who wants to sue the drug dealer responsible for her son’s overdose. There have already been similar cases in the U.S., where more than a dozen states have passed a Drug Dealer Liability Act.