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Woman takes city to court after falling on icy sidewalk
Claims she broke her wrist and injured hip after slipping on ice caused by leaking water

John McFadden
Northern News Services
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Yellowknife woman is awaiting a judge's verdict in a small claims lawsuit against the city after a fall on an icy sidewalk last winter left her with a broken right wrist and injured right hip.

NNSL photo/graphic

Yellowknife resident Nancy Vail uses crutches to make her way into Stanton Territorial Hospital's emergency ward on Thanksgiving Monday. - John McFadden/NNSL photo

Nancy Vail made her case against the city on Friday before territorial court judge Bernadette Schmaltz. She is seeking $8,000 in damages and lost wages after she slipped and fell on a Franklin Avenue sidewalk at the base of Twin Pine Hill on Nov. 9 of last year.

Vail said she broke her wrist and badly hurt her hip. She said if it had not been for some Good Samaritans who came to her aid, she could have died right there on the sidewalk.

"I was bleeding and going into shock. I was walking down the hill at the time," said Vail. "I think there was construction into the new Twin Pine Hill housing development and I think water had leaked from a sewer line or a water main and the ice built up quite thick in that area -two to three inches."

There was no signage warning of the spill, said Vail.

She said she did not want to make a huge deal out of this but decided to pursue the case because she does not want the same thing to happen to anyone else.

"When I put this through small claims court it was never supposed to be this great big thing that it has turned into," said Vail. "It was just a small claim but the city turned it into a confrontation because it could set a precedent. I don't think they want anyone else applying for small claims."

Vail said she initially sued for $3,500 for lost wages because she couldn't use her arm. But then she found out a scheduled hip operation could not go ahead because she had hurt the other hip so badly in the fall.

That meant a couple more months away from work, she said. Because she had also taken out a student loan but could not return to school because of her injuries her claim eventually reached $8,000.

"I still can't be in the workforce and I still can't take care of myself," Vail said.

She had to go to the emergency room at Stanton Territorial Hospital on Thanksgiving Monday because she was dealing with pain.

Schmaltz has reserved her decision on the case. Vail hopes to get a decision as soon as possible but said she realizes it could be as long as two months.

Yellowknifer asked the city if it had any response to Vail's allegations. City spokesperson Nalini Naidoo e-mailed to state that the city will not comment on an ongoing legal proceeding.

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