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Local Legal Perspective on Italian Scientists Earthquake Trial

Jackie Small, Civil Trial Lawyer, appeared on the Bill Good Show at CKNW AM 980 today to give some local legal perspective on the shocking conviction and sentencing of seven scientists to six years in prison. The seven went on trial for manslaughter linked to an earthquake in Italy that killed more than 300 people and the victims have also been awarded between $50,000 to $500,000. The Italian prosecutors argued that the scientists gave inaccurate and incomplete information about whether smaller tremors in the month before the earthquake should have been grounds for an official warning.  As Ms. Small points out, 

“While science can offer a perspective on earthquakes in stating how they may have happened and how often major earthquakes can happen, the ability to forecast exactly when and where an earthquake will occur, as well as the severity of an earthquake, is not possible at the present time. Put in other words, science can predict that an earthquake is possible, but there is no certain way to predict that an earthquake is probable with any precision. The law in this country requires that it must be foreseeable that the failure to act in warning the public would create the injury or damage suffered and that the harm which occurred was foreseeable or predictable to allow for an adequate warning. Precautions to guard against harm are only required if a reasonable person knew of the harm or ought to have known of the harm. Therefore, the law in Canada will interpret an earthquake as an unforeseeable event which occurs randomly which makes proving foreseeability impossible.” 

Posted by Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A., LL.B.

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