Supreme Court hears case of woman ticketed for not holding escalator handrail
Published Tuesday, April 16, 2019 6:54PM EDT
A Montreal-area woman’s unusual case was heard in the Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday, 10 years after a police officer ticketed her for refusing to hold onto an escalator handrail.
Bela Kosoian was in a subway station in Laval in 2009 when a police officer told her to respect a pictogram on the escalator that said, in French, “Caution, hold the handrail.”
Kosoian argued with the officer, who detained her for about 30 minutes before she was released with a $100 ticket for failing to hold the rail and a $320 ticket for failing to identify herself.
She was acquitted in municipal court in 2012, and then filed a lawsuit against the city, the police officer and the transit corporation. She lost twice in Quebec courts. The SCC took up the case last year.
Kosoian’s lawyer, Aymar Missakila, argued Tuesday that the case is about civil liberties. He said the officer had no right to demand Kosoian’s name and that she had no obligation to heed the pictogram.
A lawyer for Laval told the court that the officer’s actions were reasonable and that the situation could have been avoided if Kosoian had simply identified herself.
At one point during the proceedings, Justice Clement Gascon said: “I suppose if we were to give tickets to people not holding the handrail, we’d be issuing hundreds per hour.”
With files from The Canadian Press