Aug. 25, 2004. 01:00 AM
Hama cannot hold a job in Toronto and suffers ongoing emotional stress because of the negative publicity still surrounding her case, her lawyer says.
Persistent notoriety chased her to Toronto, where she relocated in 2001, shortly after launching the suit, lawyer Neil Searles said Monday after a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court into the merits of Nadia Hama vs. Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park.
"When people find out who she is, suddenly, they don't need her anymore," said Searles, one of three Toronto lawyers representing Hama in her suit.
Hama is seeking general, special and punitive damages against the bridge operators for nervous shock, mental and emotional stress and costs.
Hama blames the operators for the 1999 bridge incident that garnered international media attention, when North Vancouver RCMP suggested she be charged in the case.
She claims she stumbled accidentally and the child slipped from her grasp, tumbling over the narrow footbridge's low railing.
Her daughter Kaya, then 17 months, miraculously survived the plunge after tree branches broke her 70-metre fall .
Hama was never charged but an acrimonious divorce followed.
Her former husband, North Vancouver securities lawyer Kjeld Werbes, has custody of Kaya and their son Jovan, who was 4 at the time. During divorce proceedings, Werbes claimed Hama deliberately dropped Kaya, who has Down syndrome, off the bridge.
Now an occasional Toronto hairdresser and esthetician, Hama, 43, visits her children in Vancouver several times a year, according to court documents.
Hama, who was not in court, reportedly suffers flashbacks, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to court files, she fears the future and the media.
Hama launched suit against Capilano Suspension Bridge Holdings Ltd. in September, 2001, claiming it was negligent in failing to warn the public not to carry children across the narrow bridge that is ``inherently unstable and dangerous" and that signs should be posted warning visitors to watch their step on the swaying bridge.
Company lawyers asked for the case — due for jury trial, Nov. 15 — to be dismissed on the grounds Hama was solely responsible.