Woman who dropped baby over B.C. suspension bridge settles suit

November 2, 2004 - 18:35

VANCOUVER (CP) - A woman who dropped her disabled infant daughter over the edge of a popular suspension bridge has settled a lawsuit with the bridge operators.

"Under the agreement, Capilano Suspension Bridge expressly denies liability and is released from all claims," the operators of the tourist attraction said in a news release Tuesday.

Nadia Hama's 17-month-old daughter, Kaya, miraculously survived after tree branches broke her 50-metre fall into the rocky canyon below the bridge.

But Hama blamed the bridge's operators for causing the 1999 accident that garnered international media attention.

Hama claimed she stumbled accidentally and the child slipped from her grasp, tumbling over the footbridge's low railing.

North Vancouver RCMP suggested at the time Hama be charged in the case. Charges were never laid and Hama launched a lawsuit seeking general, special and punitive damages against the bridge operators for nervous shock, mental and emotional stress and costs.

In her suit, Hama claimed the operators were negligent in failing to warn the public not to carry children across the narrow bridge, that the bridge is "inherently unstable and dangerous" and that signs should be posted warning visitors to watch their step while crossing the bridge, which sways at times.

Confidentiality clauses in the settlement mean details of the agreement between the bridge company and Hama are not being released.

"We concluded that the agreement makes good business sense and provides a logical conclusion to this issue," said Sue Kaffka, Capilano Suspension Bridge's spokeswoman.

"It puts this issue behind us, allowing us to focus on running our company."

After Kaya was dropped, Hama became embroiled in a bitter divorce and custody battle with her ex-husband, who claimed Hama deliberately dropped Kaya off the bridge. Kaya has Down syndrome.

Hama's ex-husband, North Vancouver securities lawyer Kjeld Werbes, now has custody of Kaya and their son, Jovan, who was four at the time of the incident.

During an August court hearing on Hama's lawsuit, Hama's lawyer said the notoriety from the incident forced his client to move to Toronto.

But even there, she has had difficulty keeping a job once her employer finds out about her past, the lawyer said.

Now an occasional Toronto hairdresser and esthetician, Hama, 43, visits her children in Vancouver several times a year, according to court documents.

The documents also say Hama suffers flashbacks, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and fears the future and the media.

Lawyers for the bridge company argued it was Hama who was solely responsible for the incident.

The case was due for a jury trial beginning Nov. 15.

Hama's Toronto-based lawyer could not be reached for comment.