Court orders cyclist to pay $226K

Myong Su "John" Jang was walking in Burnaby's Central Park with his wife, Teresa, on May 25, 2007.

Then in an instant, his life changed.

Claude Ritchie was cycling along the same trail heading in the same direction when he lost control of his bicycle. He struck Jang in the back, knocking him to the ground.

Jang's left hand came down hard on the pavement and he suffered a broken wrist. An ambulance took him to Burnaby Hospital where he underwent surgery almost immediately. It took the surgeon two-and-a-half hours to reconstruct the shattered bones in his wrist.

In a recent B.C. Supreme Court judgment, Ritchie was ordered to pay more than $226,000 in damages to Jang.

Jang, now 61, came to Canada from Korea 30 years ago but his inability to speak English made it difficult to find work. A friend taught him to make sushi and he eventually worked as a sushi chef for 25 years in well-known restaurants in the Lower Mainland.

But the accident has resulted in degenerative arthritis, pain, weakness and stiffness in the hand. Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon found the condition is permanent and his hand is "fixed in a somewhat claw-like position."

Despite having his wrist in a cast for three months and extensive physiotherapy, he can no longer work as a sushi chef, Fenlon said.

It takes him twice as long to make a sushi roll as before the accident, he can't carry the rice pots to his work station and he regularly gets debilitating shooting pains up his arm.

"The injuries in his hand have effectively brought an end to that career."

Fenlon said Jang has tried to find other jobs but his  limited English and lack of education and training makes him mostly suited for labour jobs. Yet his injury makes such work too difficult.

The family has had to borrow $30,000 from the bank due to the strain on the family's finances. Jang can no longer do simple tasks at home to help out, such as chores or repairs.

"Even walking is no longer the pleasure that it once was because he is anxious about being struck from behind and finds himself constantly checking over his shoulder."

Fenlon awarded Jang more than $226,000 in the civil suit against Ritchie—$80,000 for non-pecuniary damages, $1,387 for rehabilitation expenses, $500 for future care, $79,215 for past wage loss and $65,000 for future loss of earning capacity.

Ritchie, meanwhile, did not appear at the trial or contest the case. "Mr. Ritchie had counsel for much of these proceedings. Counsel lost contact with his client and withdrew before trial," Fenlon said.

"It appears Mr. Ritchie has chosen to avoid this litigation."

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