Braidwood 'happy' after Taser loses court challenge
Published Tuesday, August 10, 2010 3:01PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 11:24PM PDT
The retired judge behind the Braidwood Inquiry says he's "quite happy" that the B.C. Supreme Court has dismissed a legal challenge by Taser International to overturn his findings.
The company argued against Commissioner Thomas Braidwood's conclusion that the conducted energy weapons increase the risk of fatal heart failure. Taser said that he didn't take into account all of the information the company provided, and that it wasn't given an opportunity to respond before the report was released.
In his judgment, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Sewell rejected Taser's request, saying the company's arguments hold "no merit."
After the judge's decision was released, Braidwood told CTV News, "I'm feeling quite happy, and I'm feeling that I've been totally justified."
He said the company's assertion that he had ignored medical evidence was "just totally unfounded.... We did everything we could do."
Braidwood, who oversaw two sets of hearings following the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport, released a report last year that found Tasers can be lethal and their use should be restricted, although he also said they are a necessary tool for police.
Sewell wrote in his decision that it's clear to him that Braidwood had carefully looked at the opinions of medical experts and his findings were reasonable.
"The petitioner's alternative argument before me was that the Study Commission Report's conclusion that conducted energy weapons have the capacity to cause death was patently unreasonable and unsupported by any credible evidence," Sewell said in the written ruling.
"I find no merit in this submission. It is quite clear to me that there were presentations made to the commissioner by medical experts and others to the effect that such weapons can cause serious harm and even death in exceptional circumstances."
Sewell also notes there is nothing in Braidwood's report "which a fair-minded person would construe as an attack or criticism of the petitioner's reputation."
Related: Read the full court decision
Arizona-based Taser International said Braidwood's report forced it to travel the world to defend its products, and the findings prompted law enforcement officials in Africa to scrap a contract worth "tens of millions of dollars."
The B.C. government and the RCMP have both endorsed Braidwood's recommendations and restricted how and when the weapon can be used.
Last year, Taser International sent out a news release boasting it had successfully won its 100th dismissal of a liability lawsuit.
However, the company cannot claim a perfect legal record: in 2008 a California jury ruled the weapon was at least partially responsible for the death of a man who died in police custody.
With files from The Canadian Press