Rita Carrey settles lawsuit with Hamilton over son’s death

News May 30, 2012 Hamilton Spectator

How much is a life worth?

For Rita Carrey, sister of Canadian movie star Jim Carrey, the value put on her son, Marty Fournier, after his tragic death made her angry.

“I just think people don’t know what a life is worth in this country,” says the Grimsby resident, who sued the City of Hamilton, alleging it was responsible for his death after Fournier died in a freak accident on a narrow rural road.

Saturday will mark the seventh anniversary of the 25-year-old’s death.

The city settled for an undisclosed amount in March, but what angered and shocked Carrey was her discovery of a $125,000 cap on awards for this type of lawsuit in Ontario. The settlement was reached through mediation, and city spokesperson John McLennan says it was reached without prejudice and without any admission of liability.

“That’s the maximum a parent could sue for my son’s untimely death. It mocks a human life. It’s just insane,” she says.

“My court case is done, but I want the Supreme Court of Canada to amend that law in the future,” Carrey said over the phone from Welland, where she just wrapped up a taping of her overnight radio show on 91.7 Giant FM. She also co-hosts a 3 to 6 p.m. afternoon drive-time show.

Although injury awards for pain and suffering can go as high as $345,000, there is no similar compensation award when a person dies.

Instead, family members can sue for the lesser amount under Ontario’s Family Law Act for loss of care, guidance and companionship.

“It does seem surprising that a loss of life is valued less than a serious injury,” says Toronto insurance lawyer Jim Davidson, who wasn’t involved in the case. But “it’s not for your own grief. It’s just to compensate you for the loss of the person in your life.”

Fournier had just finished a shift at Ontario Patient Transfer, where he worked as a mechanic, and was on his way home to Dundas on June 2, 2005, with his fiancée, Michelle Ross, when he was killed.

“Everything was booked” for the August event, says Carrey. “The wedding dress was hanging in my closet, ready to go.”

The couple was driving on Patterson Road, a narrow two-lane road in the Pleasantview area of Dundas, when Fournier pulled over to allow a landscaping vehicle to pass.

The truck had enough room to get by, but the vehicle was pulling a flatbed in the back that was wider. It snagged on a tree stump at the side of the road, detached from the truck and smashed through Fournier’s windshield, killing him instantly. It narrowly missed his fiancée.

Ross also sued and settled with the city in March.

Fournier was the eldest of Carrey’s three sons. Michael is now 28, and Matthew 25. He played in a band with his mother.

Carrey says not all her family wanted her to pursue the lawsuit. Her famous brother told her “Do what you want to do.”

Carrey maintains the city cut down trees at the side of the road and failed to remove the stumps. The city won’t discuss the settlement because of confidentiality placed on the mediation agreements.

“I would like to be absolutely clear that the City, and particularly those who worked closely with this file — Risk Management, Legal Services, Forestry, Roads and responding EMS and police personnel, have every sympathy for the surviving Fournier family members as well as Ms. Ross,” McLennan, a senior risk management and insurance co-ordinator for the city, wrote in an email.

Carrey says she was dismayed by the time it took to settle the lawsuit, as well as the process.

“It’s shocking that you have to actually sit and convince lawyers that your son’s life is worth something,” Carrey said.

She describes the period after his death as “hell here on earth,” a time of grief during which her marriage dissolved. She spent a lot of money and drank to dull the pain.

“I did it all,” says Carrey. “I walked through all of that.”

“I went to work two weeks after, because if I stayed home, I’d go insane. I’d go to work and cry all the way to work. Go in, be funny on air, and cry all the way home. And that happened for months,” says Carrey, who was helped through it by grief counselling.

She started writing A Mother’s Letter after Fournier’s death, a cathartic account of all the things she still had to say to her funny and impulsive son, who encouraged her to sing in the family’s rock band. Carrey will open for April Wine on Saturday at the Summerlicious festival in Niagara Falls.

The book evolved into Growing Up Carrey, a celebration of her son’s life as well as the ups and downs in her own. Carrey’s mother struggled with depression, and, at one point, her father lost his job as an accountant, forcing the family to live in a van. The family lived in Burlington for a number of years.

“When I look back at it, I didn’t realize we were really homeless. I just thought we were camping,” says Carrey. “My parents made it a good time. That’s what life was like.”

The book may be out by next spring.

On Saturday, Carrey will drive down Patterson Road and visit the site where she lost her son. At the festival that night, she’ll sing their favourite song to him: Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day.

Toronto Star

With files from Daniel Nolan, The Hamilton Spectator

Rita Carrey settles lawsuit with Hamilton over son’s death

Rita Carrey, sister to Jim, speaks out against Ontario’s $125,000 cap on a lawsuit involving her son’s death in Hamilton

News May 30, 2012 Hamilton Spectator

How much is a life worth?

For Rita Carrey, sister of Canadian movie star Jim Carrey, the value put on her son, Marty Fournier, after his tragic death made her angry.

“I just think people don’t know what a life is worth in this country,” says the Grimsby resident, who sued the City of Hamilton, alleging it was responsible for his death after Fournier died in a freak accident on a narrow rural road.

Saturday will mark the seventh anniversary of the 25-year-old’s death.

The city settled for an undisclosed amount in March, but what angered and shocked Carrey was her discovery of a $125,000 cap on awards for this type of lawsuit in Ontario. The settlement was reached through mediation, and city spokesperson John McLennan says it was reached without prejudice and without any admission of liability.

“That’s the maximum a parent could sue for my son’s untimely death. It mocks a human life. It’s just insane,” she says.

“My court case is done, but I want the Supreme Court of Canada to amend that law in the future,” Carrey said over the phone from Welland, where she just wrapped up a taping of her overnight radio show on 91.7 Giant FM. She also co-hosts a 3 to 6 p.m. afternoon drive-time show.

Although injury awards for pain and suffering can go as high as $345,000, there is no similar compensation award when a person dies.

Instead, family members can sue for the lesser amount under Ontario’s Family Law Act for loss of care, guidance and companionship.

“It does seem surprising that a loss of life is valued less than a serious injury,” says Toronto insurance lawyer Jim Davidson, who wasn’t involved in the case. But “it’s not for your own grief. It’s just to compensate you for the loss of the person in your life.”

Fournier had just finished a shift at Ontario Patient Transfer, where he worked as a mechanic, and was on his way home to Dundas on June 2, 2005, with his fiancée, Michelle Ross, when he was killed.

“Everything was booked” for the August event, says Carrey. “The wedding dress was hanging in my closet, ready to go.”

The couple was driving on Patterson Road, a narrow two-lane road in the Pleasantview area of Dundas, when Fournier pulled over to allow a landscaping vehicle to pass.

The truck had enough room to get by, but the vehicle was pulling a flatbed in the back that was wider. It snagged on a tree stump at the side of the road, detached from the truck and smashed through Fournier’s windshield, killing him instantly. It narrowly missed his fiancée.

Ross also sued and settled with the city in March.

Fournier was the eldest of Carrey’s three sons. Michael is now 28, and Matthew 25. He played in a band with his mother.

Carrey says not all her family wanted her to pursue the lawsuit. Her famous brother told her “Do what you want to do.”

Carrey maintains the city cut down trees at the side of the road and failed to remove the stumps. The city won’t discuss the settlement because of confidentiality placed on the mediation agreements.

“I would like to be absolutely clear that the City, and particularly those who worked closely with this file — Risk Management, Legal Services, Forestry, Roads and responding EMS and police personnel, have every sympathy for the surviving Fournier family members as well as Ms. Ross,” McLennan, a senior risk management and insurance co-ordinator for the city, wrote in an email.

Carrey says she was dismayed by the time it took to settle the lawsuit, as well as the process.

“It’s shocking that you have to actually sit and convince lawyers that your son’s life is worth something,” Carrey said.

She describes the period after his death as “hell here on earth,” a time of grief during which her marriage dissolved. She spent a lot of money and drank to dull the pain.

“I did it all,” says Carrey. “I walked through all of that.”

“I went to work two weeks after, because if I stayed home, I’d go insane. I’d go to work and cry all the way to work. Go in, be funny on air, and cry all the way home. And that happened for months,” says Carrey, who was helped through it by grief counselling.

She started writing A Mother’s Letter after Fournier’s death, a cathartic account of all the things she still had to say to her funny and impulsive son, who encouraged her to sing in the family’s rock band. Carrey will open for April Wine on Saturday at the Summerlicious festival in Niagara Falls.

The book evolved into Growing Up Carrey, a celebration of her son’s life as well as the ups and downs in her own. Carrey’s mother struggled with depression, and, at one point, her father lost his job as an accountant, forcing the family to live in a van. The family lived in Burlington for a number of years.

“When I look back at it, I didn’t realize we were really homeless. I just thought we were camping,” says Carrey. “My parents made it a good time. That’s what life was like.”

The book may be out by next spring.

On Saturday, Carrey will drive down Patterson Road and visit the site where she lost her son. At the festival that night, she’ll sing their favourite song to him: Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day.

Toronto Star

With files from Daniel Nolan, The Hamilton Spectator

Rita Carrey settles lawsuit with Hamilton over son’s death

Rita Carrey, sister to Jim, speaks out against Ontario’s $125,000 cap on a lawsuit involving her son’s death in Hamilton

News May 30, 2012 Hamilton Spectator

How much is a life worth?

For Rita Carrey, sister of Canadian movie star Jim Carrey, the value put on her son, Marty Fournier, after his tragic death made her angry.

“I just think people don’t know what a life is worth in this country,” says the Grimsby resident, who sued the City of Hamilton, alleging it was responsible for his death after Fournier died in a freak accident on a narrow rural road.

Saturday will mark the seventh anniversary of the 25-year-old’s death.

The city settled for an undisclosed amount in March, but what angered and shocked Carrey was her discovery of a $125,000 cap on awards for this type of lawsuit in Ontario. The settlement was reached through mediation, and city spokesperson John McLennan says it was reached without prejudice and without any admission of liability.

“That’s the maximum a parent could sue for my son’s untimely death. It mocks a human life. It’s just insane,” she says.

“My court case is done, but I want the Supreme Court of Canada to amend that law in the future,” Carrey said over the phone from Welland, where she just wrapped up a taping of her overnight radio show on 91.7 Giant FM. She also co-hosts a 3 to 6 p.m. afternoon drive-time show.

Although injury awards for pain and suffering can go as high as $345,000, there is no similar compensation award when a person dies.

Instead, family members can sue for the lesser amount under Ontario’s Family Law Act for loss of care, guidance and companionship.

“It does seem surprising that a loss of life is valued less than a serious injury,” says Toronto insurance lawyer Jim Davidson, who wasn’t involved in the case. But “it’s not for your own grief. It’s just to compensate you for the loss of the person in your life.”

Fournier had just finished a shift at Ontario Patient Transfer, where he worked as a mechanic, and was on his way home to Dundas on June 2, 2005, with his fiancée, Michelle Ross, when he was killed.

“Everything was booked” for the August event, says Carrey. “The wedding dress was hanging in my closet, ready to go.”

The couple was driving on Patterson Road, a narrow two-lane road in the Pleasantview area of Dundas, when Fournier pulled over to allow a landscaping vehicle to pass.

The truck had enough room to get by, but the vehicle was pulling a flatbed in the back that was wider. It snagged on a tree stump at the side of the road, detached from the truck and smashed through Fournier’s windshield, killing him instantly. It narrowly missed his fiancée.

Ross also sued and settled with the city in March.

Fournier was the eldest of Carrey’s three sons. Michael is now 28, and Matthew 25. He played in a band with his mother.

Carrey says not all her family wanted her to pursue the lawsuit. Her famous brother told her “Do what you want to do.”

Carrey maintains the city cut down trees at the side of the road and failed to remove the stumps. The city won’t discuss the settlement because of confidentiality placed on the mediation agreements.

“I would like to be absolutely clear that the City, and particularly those who worked closely with this file — Risk Management, Legal Services, Forestry, Roads and responding EMS and police personnel, have every sympathy for the surviving Fournier family members as well as Ms. Ross,” McLennan, a senior risk management and insurance co-ordinator for the city, wrote in an email.

Carrey says she was dismayed by the time it took to settle the lawsuit, as well as the process.

“It’s shocking that you have to actually sit and convince lawyers that your son’s life is worth something,” Carrey said.

She describes the period after his death as “hell here on earth,” a time of grief during which her marriage dissolved. She spent a lot of money and drank to dull the pain.

“I did it all,” says Carrey. “I walked through all of that.”

“I went to work two weeks after, because if I stayed home, I’d go insane. I’d go to work and cry all the way to work. Go in, be funny on air, and cry all the way home. And that happened for months,” says Carrey, who was helped through it by grief counselling.

She started writing A Mother’s Letter after Fournier’s death, a cathartic account of all the things she still had to say to her funny and impulsive son, who encouraged her to sing in the family’s rock band. Carrey will open for April Wine on Saturday at the Summerlicious festival in Niagara Falls.

The book evolved into Growing Up Carrey, a celebration of her son’s life as well as the ups and downs in her own. Carrey’s mother struggled with depression, and, at one point, her father lost his job as an accountant, forcing the family to live in a van. The family lived in Burlington for a number of years.

“When I look back at it, I didn’t realize we were really homeless. I just thought we were camping,” says Carrey. “My parents made it a good time. That’s what life was like.”

The book may be out by next spring.

On Saturday, Carrey will drive down Patterson Road and visit the site where she lost her son. At the festival that night, she’ll sing their favourite song to him: Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day.

Toronto Star

With files from Daniel Nolan, The Hamilton Spectator