Western University has now fired their defence lawyers in the wake of controversy. The situation began over the university's choice in defence statements in response to the ongoing lawsuit involving the Christidis family, Western, Western's Student Council, The Spoke tavern, Jared Dejong, and his father.
The defence was in response to the lawsuit over the 2015 death of Andrea Christidis, a first-year Western student who was hit and killed by Dejong who had been drinking at a campus bar before opting to drive.
The accusations of both Dejong and Western's defence were what resulted in the controversy as both parties heavily inferred that the victim, Andrea Christidis, was to blame for the accident. Western's defence statement went as far as to say Christidis was "the author of her own misfortune." Dejong's statement built on this and added that Christidis was "impaired by alcohol, drugs, fatigue or a combination thereof" when it reality Christidis had been walking home from a class lab she had attended to earn extra credit.
Western also claimed that Christidis was to blame because she wasn't paying attention to oncoming traffic, was using her phone and was not wearing her glasses. In reality, Christidis was on the sidewalk before being hit from behind and the glasses she owned were used only for reading.
As a result of the statements reaching the news, many current Western students, alumni and outside members of the community were outraged at the comments by both the Dejong family and Western. Shortly after, a petition was started online by SAID Western titled "Ensuring a Proper and Respectful Statement of Defence for the Christidis Family."
The petition now has over 24,000 signatures. According to the page, the petition was meant to symbolize not only support for the Christidis family but also "serve as a stand against victim blaming in all impaired driving cases."
As of this morning, Western has fired the defence lawyers they had at the time of releasing their initial statement. Western claims that the initial statement had been made "without first consulting Western to its contents. Western does not support certain contents of that statement of defence." They also have reached out to SAID Western and gone as far "as to ask [their] opinion on how to remedy the situation in a formal meeting" according to the petition page's update.
The Christidis family are still seeking $7 million in loss of income and damages as a result of the loss of not only their daughter Andrea, but her father, Chris Christidis, who passed away from a heart attack in the months following the accident.