Steveston fish ‘n’ chip shop being sued by ramp collapse victims

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ramp collapse victims
This photo of the collapsed walkway at Pajo’s in July 2017 was taken by one of the people stranded on the floating dock. Photo: Twitter

Three of the four people that were on the ramp leading to a popular Steveston fish ‘n’ chip shop when it collapsed two years ago have filed a lawsuit.

The Zanotto family – Franco, Tina and Tatiana – are suing Pajo’s Restaurants, Steveston Harbour Authority and the federal Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans.

The 50-foot ramp, which leads from the boardwalk over the harbour to Pajo’s floating dock, cracked and collapsed 15 feet into the water on July 9, 2017, resulting in one person being taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Reports from emergency services at the time indicated the other three people on the walkway were unhurt. The court documents don’t state whether the person taken to hospital was one of the Zanottos.

About 20 to 30 customers and staff on the dock were stranded and had to wait for around 45 minutes before emergency services provided a makeshift dock for them to get safely back to land.

In the suit filed on July 4 at BC Supreme Court, each of the Zanottos is claiming damages and costs associated to multiple short- and long-term injuries sustained during the accident.

Franco lists neck, arm, thumb, chest, hip, back and shoulder injuries, while Tina lists all the same injuries, along with sleeplessness, anxiety and PTSD.

Tatiana claims she suffered injuries to her back and wrist and also suffers from sleeplessness, anxiety and flashbacks associated to PTSD.

They are seeking compensation for general damages, loss of earnings and earning capacity, special damages, past and future healthcare costs and the cost of future care.

In the lawsuit, the Zanottos claim the ramp collapse was caused by the negligence of all three defendants (Pajo’s, Steveston Harbour and the ministry).

In particular, they allege there was:

No “reasonable system” in place for inspecting the ramp;

A failure to test the ramp’s structural integrity;

A failure to maintain it adequately;

A failure to repair known defects;

A failure to determine load limits;

A failure to warn/post signs with respect to load limits.

The suit makes reference to the fact the location is owned by the ministry, which leases the harbour and its lands to the Steveston Harbour Authority which, in turn, sublets the property to Pajo’s.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and the defendants have yet to file a response to the claim.

A month after the accident, the Richmond News reported how the ramp was not fit for its purpose, according to a WorkSafeBC report.

The report stated that the walkway was not “at the time of collapse, capable of performing the function for which it was used, i.e., serving as a bridge between shore-side and the floating restaurant.”

However, a statement issued from the family-run Pajo’s questioned WorkSafeBC’s findings, saying that regular inspections of the walkway were carried out, with no signs of any issues.

“We conducted regular inspections of the ramp and there was no indication it was not capable of performing the function it was used for.”

At the time, the News was not able to get information on the differences between the old walkway and the new one.

Pajo’s has been operating in the harbour, at the corner of Bayview and Third Avenue, since 1985.