Leamington man facing murder charge after crash files $10M lawsuit
A Leamington man, who is charged with first degree murder after a bizarre car crash in 2012, has filed a $10-million lawsuit.
Among those named in a Statement of Claim filed by Andrew Cowan are the Town of Leamington, the Corporation of the County of Essex, the Leamington Horticultural Society, Caesars Windsor and two unnamed individuals.
Cowan filed this Statement of Claim on Oct. 20, 2014.
Seven days later, he was charged with first degree murder in connection to a crash that left one man dead.
But despite a police investigation that lasted two years, and resulted in criminal charges against Cowan, he claims it was a poorly built flowerbed that led to this tragedy.
On Oct. 21, 2012, a pickup truck driven by now 42-year-old Cowan hit a flowerbed in Leamington and went airborne, striking the roof of a building.
Cowan and his passenger, 53-year-old Edward Witt, were both injured and taken to hospital. One week later, Witt died.
Two years after the crash, after what police describe as a lengthy and exhaustive investigation, OPP arrested and charged Cowan with first degree murder.
But now, a $10-million lawsuit is making its way through the courts. In it, Cowan alleges the flowerbed he hit was designed and constructed improperly.
According to the statement of claim, “the defendants permitted the oversized ramp-like flowerbed and retaining wall to be constructed in such a way that it acted as a ramp which when struck propelled the plaintiff's motor vehicle into the air and caused it to crash into the side of a building.”
The claim goes on to state “they failed to consider the optimal size and elevation for the flower bed and retaining... considering its urban location and close proximity to a well-travelled roadway. And they posted speed limits not in keeping with the design of an oversized ramp-like flowerbed and retaining wall.”
The statement of claim also alleges Cowan was permitted alcohol at Caesars Windsor, knowing he was intoxicated and that, “it knew or ought to have known that the service of alcohol to Andrew Cowan and Edward Witt would cause or contribute to their level of intoxication such that they were in danger of causing injury to themselves.”
The Leamington Horiticultural Society is the only defendant to have so far filed a statement of defence. The society denies the collision was due to its negligence but was “solely due to the intentional acts and/or negligence of the plaintiff, Cowan.”
According to the statement of defence, the society accuses the plaintiff of “driving at a high rate of speed, driving a motor vehicle with defective brakes, windshield, headlights and steering equipment failing to apply his brakes in time to avoid a collision.”
It goes on to say “This defendant states that the design construction and maintenance of the flower bed was done in a reasonable and responsible manner and in no way would have caused or contributed to the accident provided that a driver was at all reasonable in his operation of a vehicle.”
The Statement of Defence also points out that Cowan has been charged with first degree murder in relation to the crash.
The Statement of Claim also says Cowan sustained “serious, catastrophic and permanent injuries and impairments" resulting from the crash.
A lawyer representing the Municipality of Leamington says they will also be filing a statement of defence denying any allegations against the town.
CTV Windsor also reached out to the County and Caesars, but was unable to reach anyone for comment.
Calls to the lawyer representing Cowan were also not returned.
None of the allegations contained in the lawsuit have yet been proven in court.