Birken landslide victim drops lawsuit against SLRD 

Ken Meyer will still continue his legal action against several others

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - Several homes, such as the one pictured here, were covered in mud during the 2015 Birken disaster.
  • File photo
  • Several homes, such as the one pictured here, were covered in mud during the 2015 Birken disaster.

A man is dropping his lawsuit against the SLRD after blaming it — as well as several other entities — for the loss of his home in the Birken landslide of 2015.

Ken Meyer filed a notice of discontinuance in the proceeding against the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District in the Vancouver law courts on Sept. 21.

Previously in his lawsuit, Meyer also named BC Hydro, CN Rail, the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Transport. Meyer’s lawyer, Seema Lal of SHK Law Corporation, told The Chief on Nov. 15 this would drop the legal action against the SLRD only.

Lal declined to comment on why Meyer dropped the suit against the SLRD.

The regional district’s lawyer acknowledged the news.

“I expect this occurred in consequence of Mr. Meyer being satisfied that the regional district did not play any role in causing the landslide or the losses which he complains of in his lawsuit,” wrote Jeff Locke, the legal counsel for the SLRD, in an email to The Chief.

Birken is a community to the northeast of Pemberton that made headlines after several homes were destroyed in 2015. A torrent of mud covered several homes in the area after extensive rainfall.

Last year, Meyer sued the Ministry of Forests, the Ministry of Transportation, CN Rail, BC Hydro and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District for damages and costs, among other things.

He alleged some of those entities failed to warn him.

“SLRD, MoF and/or MoT failed or refused to warn, notify or otherwise inform Mr. Meyer of the risk and the dangers associated with the hazardous zone,” reads Meyer’s notice of civil claim.

“Had SLRD, MoF and/or MoT warned Mr. Meyer of the risk and the dangers associated with the hazardous zone, Mr. Meyer would not have suffered the loss.”

Meyer said in his claim his property was destroyed on Sept. 20, 2015 after his home and shop were buried in up to four metres of debris.

His lawsuit also said that BC Hydro owned, operated and maintained two strings of transmission towers and lines in that zone, while CN Rail had a railway line running through that area.

“The likelihood of occurrence of these natural hazards is increased and/or exacerbated by the hydro and/or rail operations,” the claim says.

Last year, three of the defendants filed statements of defence in response.

In its statement, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District denied that it owed a duty of care to warn Meyer and also disputes his description of the area as a “hazardous zone.”

BC Hydro and CN Rail, the other two defendants that filed statements of defense, also said they did not owe a duty of care to warn Meyer.

BC Hydro did not return requests for comment before press deadline. CN Rail declined to comment further on the matter.

As of press time, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Forests still have not filed statements of defense.

Spokespeople from both ministries said they couldn’t provide comment because the matter is before the courts.

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