The Supreme Court of Canada is seen Friday April 25, 2014 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Woman wrongly detained in Montreal handrail dispute, Supreme Court rules

Court found Bela Kosoian was within her rights when she refused to obey an unlawful order

A police officer stepped over the line when he detained a Quebec woman for refusing to hold onto an escalator handrail, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday while also slamming Montreal’s transit authority.

In its unanimous ruling, the court found Bela Kosoian was within her rights when she refused to obey an unlawful order, and that a reasonable police officer would not have considered refusing to abide by a caution-notice pictogram on the escalator to be an offence.

The Societe de transport de Montreal “for its part, committed a fault by teaching police officers that the pictogram in question imposed an obligation to hold the handrail,” adds the ruling, written by Justice Suzanne Cote.

Kosoian is entitled to a total of $20,000 in damages from Const. Fabio Camacho, the City of Laval as Camacho’s employer, and the STM, the court ruled.

READ MORE: Lawsuit against RCMP officer for excessive force begins in Smithers

Kosoian was in a subway station in the Montreal suburb of Laval in 2009 when Camacho told her to respect the pictogram bearing the instruction, “Hold the handrail.”

She replied that she did not consider the image, which also featured the word “Careful,” to be an obligation, declined to hold the handrail and refused to identity herself.

Officers detained Kosoian for about 30 minutes before letting her go with two tickets: one for $100 for disobeying a pictogram and another for $320 for obstructing the work of an inspector.

She was acquitted of the infractions in Montreal municipal court in 2012 and subsequently filed a $45,000 lawsuit.

Her suit was rejected by Quebec court in 2015 and two years later by the Quebec Court of Appeal, which said Kosoian was the “author of her own misfortune.”

But the Supreme Court found Kosoian “was entitled to refuse to obey an unlawful order.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ocean Boulevard could open after Labour Day

Colwood council expected to discuss options later this month

Sidney can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

CAO says municipality lacks legislative authority to enforce social distancing in public

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

Cyclist in hospital after being hit by load of lumber hanging from truck on B.C. highway

A man is in hospital with broken ribs, punctured lung and a broken clavicle and scapula

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Racism in B.C. healthcare: Deadline for First Nations survey coming up on Aug. 6

Survey comes after hospital staff allegedly played a blood alcohol guessing game

‘We want to help’: As overdose deaths spike, beds lay empty at long-term Surrey rehab centre

John Volken Academy searching for ‘students’ to enlist in two-year residential treatment program

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Most Read