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

Affordable seniors housing complex pitched for Nanaimo’s hospital district

Seafield Crescent complex would include two five-storey buildings

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Blockades violating people’s rights to move freely

Too many protesters clearly believe their rights supersede other citizens’ rights, says letter writer

UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP say missing woman has been found safe and sound

Friend says Sarah Duguay may be associating with people who don’t have her best interests at heart

Quarterway, Cilaire have the right touch in football playoffs

Nanaimo Elementary Teachers’ Physical Education Association organized leagues this past fall

Students projected to be in new wing of École Hammond Bay in two years

Project to expand north-end French immersion school to add 13 classrooms

Protesters barricade Premier John Horgan’s home ahead of B.C. budget unveiling

Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion have blocked the Langford driveway

Victoria, Abbotsford record biggest jumps in rent prices nationwide: report

Toronto and Vancouver had priciest rentals in Canada

VIDEO: Convoy of forest industry supporters on its way to Victoria

Rally at the B.C. legislature begins with participants setting off from Campbell River

Teen snowmobiler found safe after overnight search in Okanagan

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Forestry convoy headed down Vancouver Island to legislature lawn

Rally to be held Tuesday in Victoria pushing for the protection of ‘working forests’

Woman arrested in Cariboo after fuel stolen, police car rammed

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

No dramatic shifts expected as B.C. government tables new budget today

Finance Minister Carole James has promised to stay the course when she tables the budget in the legislature

Most Read