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Tribunal rejects $3K motorcycle claim against BC Ferries

"Mr. Mah should not have left his motorcycle without confirming how to properly secure it."
BC Ferries was not found negligent by the Civil Resolution Tribunal.

A B.C. man won't be getting $3,000 from BC Ferries, money he claimed the corporation owed him after his motorcycle fell over during a sailing.

Toshman Mah told B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal member Kristin Gardner his motorcycle was damaged when it fell over on May 26, 2023. He said BC Ferries failed to secure his motorcycle and is responsible for repair costs.

Mah said he parked where BC Ferries staff instructed him to. He was then told by staff to move upstairs to the ferry’s lounge area.

About one hour into the sailing, Mah’s motorcycle tipped over.

“This is supported by CCTV footage,” Gardner said.

Mah said BC Ferries was responsible for the damage because its staff failed to place any blocks to stabilize the bike.

“I find Mr. Mah is alleging that BC Ferries was negligent,” Gardner said.

BC Ferries denied any negligence, saying vehicle owners are responsible for properly securing their vehicles on the ferry. The company said it was Mah’s own negligence that caused any damage.

“BC Ferries says it did not owe Mr. Mah a duty of care to ensure his vehicle was properly parked and secured during the sailing,” Gardner said. “It says there are signs on board the ferry that state riders must park and secure their motorcycles ‘entirely at their own risk.’”

BC Ferries provided a photo of the relevant sign, which has instructions about how to park motorcycles, including that they be parked at 45 degrees to the ferry’s centre line, left in low gear, parked on the side stand, and blocked on the opposite side with available wooden blocks.

It was undisputed staff instructed Mah to park his motorcycle in a different area, which BC Ferries says is commonly used for motorcycles, particularly when the motorcycle zone is full.

Mah, however, said he didn’t see any signs indicating how to block motorcycles, and that BC Ferries did not provide him with any blocks.

“I find it is possible Mr. Mah did not see the sign or the available blocks given where BC Ferries instructed him to park,” Gardner said.

The tribunal agreed with BC Ferries that Mah should have known he was responsible for ensuring his motorcycle was properly secured.

“I find it was unreasonable for Mr. Mah to expect BC Ferries would be responsible for blocking the wheels of his motorcycle,” Gardner said. “It should have been obvious that Mr. Mah was on a moving vessel, subject to turns, potential bumps when leaving and arriving at the dock, and rough waters,” she said.

“I find Mr. Mah should not have left his motorcycle without confirming how to properly secure it,” she added.

Gardner said BC Ferries does have a duty of care to provide drivers with a safe location to park their vehicles on the ferry, including a duty to provide wheel blocks to secure motorcycles.

“However, I find its duty of care does not extend to ensuring motorcycles are properly secured. I find that duty belongs to the motorcycle driver, in this case, Mr. Mah,” she said. “For that reason, I find Mr. Mah has not established BC Ferries was negligent.”