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Suit comes after 2013 accident where prof Collobert was doored while cycling

Photo: Kim Wiens

University of Ottawa philosophy professor Catherine Collobert has filed a $1-million lawsuit against the Japanese embassy, after a 2013 cycling accident, which she says has  resulted in permanent injuries.

The suit names the driver of the car that allegedly doored Collobert, Kiyohiro Saito, as well as the Japanese embassy and the nation of Japan.

Collobert said she was hit by the door of an embassy car, an incident referred to as being doored, while cycling on Gladstone Avenue on Aug. 24, 2013.

“Suddenly and without warning, the defendant swung open the driver’s door of the defendant’s vehicle, immediately in front of Catherine,” says the statement of claim submitted by Collobert. “With no time to evade, Catherine violently slammed into the defendant’s car door, flipped over the top of it, and crashed into the pavement.”

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Collobert suffered several severe injuries after the alleged crash, including broken bones in her foot and a separated shoulder. She also claims to have suffered psychological distress, including stress, anxiety, frustration, anger and irritability. In addition to this, she mentions problems at work, including the fact that she now has to teach classes sitting down.

The Japanese embassy has yet to file a statement of defence, and said they were unable to provide a comment at this time, upon request from the Fulcrum.

The City of Ottawa has recently upped the penalty for dooring cyclists, which is prohibited by the Highway Traffic Act, to try and stop the problem. The fine has increased to a maximum of $1,000 and three demerit points. Demerit points can lead to an interview to explain why the driver should keep their licence, or suspension of the licence.

There have been many other incidents of dooring in Ottawa, the most serious of which took place in 2011, when cyclist Danielle Naçu was killed after being hit by a car door into moving traffic.

In another effort to reduce the problem, one part of Wellington St. has been painted with lines marking the “dooring zone” and telling cyclists to avoid the area. According to the City of Ottawa website, the “dooring danger zone” is up to a meter from parked cars.

A court date for Collobert’s suit is yet to be determined.