Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Shopping mall owners suing car rental company, driver of fatal crash

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The owners of a St. James-area shopping mall are suing a Winnipeg driver and a major car-rental company for the major damage that occurred in a bizarre crash that killed a hair-salon employee.

LS Properties, owners of the Crestview Shopping Centre, is seeking more than $198,000 in damages from Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Adebola Shoyoye, 34, after a Jeep Liberty slammed into an Ultracuts salon on April 7, 2012.

The crash killed 27-year-old Kendall Wiebe and seriously injured another woman.

Shoyoye was criminally charged six months after the crash and is pending trial on a charge of dangerous driving causing death.

In its negligence lawsuit, filed April 4, the mall's owners allege Shoyoye drove the Jeep in a "careless and reckless manner," was speeding and failed to brake or steer away in time to avoid the collision.

The company also accuses Enterprise of failing to keep the vehicle in "good and proper operating condition."

The allegations have not been proven nor tested in court and no trial dates have been set. The lawsuit, which is only in its initial stages, does not detail the damage the crash caused to the mall nor outline how its owners plan to prove their allegations.

Winnipeg police have said their investigation — which included working with Transport Canada and Chrysler Canada — could find no mechanical problems with the Jeep Shoyoye was driving that day.

As a result, they said the only conclusion police were left with was driver error.

There have been widespread reports of Jeep models experiencing unintended acceleration in Canada and the United States over the past few years but subsequent investigations by authorities in both countries found no mechanical defects.

In an interview with the Free Press after he was charged, Shoyoye said he had rented the Jeep a few days before the accident.

Shoyoye said he was on his way home when the Jeep went out of control.

"I pushed the brake, it would not stop," Shoyoye said. "The police told me that I somehow made a mistake, hit the gas instead of the brake but that’s not how it happened. The vehicle would not stop."

Wiebe's common-law husband has said he disbelieves Shoyoye's version.

The Crestwood Dental Centre and the insurance company for Ultracuts also filed lawsuits against Shoyoye and Enterprise this month.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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