Paralympian sues University of Regina

After waiting 10 years for a trial, Canadian Paralympian Miranda Biletski has taken the University of Regina (U of R) to court for a diving injury in their pool that left her a quadriplegic and wheelchair-bound, according to the CBC.

At the time of the accident in 2005, Biletski was a 16-year-old competitive swimmer and water polo player; she had just joined the Regina Piranhas Swim Club, according to the article.

Within 37 days of joining the club, she attempted her second shallow dive at a training exercise; she lunged off the blocks to cover more distance. Biletski’s head hit the bottom of the pool, causing a fracture to her spinal cord.

She told the CBC that all she remembers is floating face down in the pool after the dive, unable to move. According to the National Post, Biletski testified in court on Sept. 25, saying that regular utensils were too heavy to eat with due to her lack of finger dexterity.

“So Mom actually brought me a Dairy Queen blizzard and the plastic spoon was the first thing I learned to eat with,” she told the court. Along with relearning to eat, Biletski had to learn how to sit upright without passing out and how to use a catheter to allow her to use the bathroom, according to the article.

The Charlatan contacted Biletski for an interview but was unable to reach her in time for publication.

Since the accident, Biletski has gone on to play wheelchair rugby and made her debut at the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. She made the team again in 2014 where she became the first woman to play in a gold medal game.

Biletski has also competed in the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

According to the Canadian Paralympic Committee website, Biletski became “hooked” on rugby when she was receiving rehabilitation for her injuries and saw the documentary Murderball which is about paraplegics who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs.

The Charlatan reached out to both the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Everett Dorma, public affairs strategist with the U of R, but both were unable to comment due to the ongoing trial.

However, according to the Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan case file, the university has launched a separate lawsuit against the Piranhas Swim Club to cover damages if liability is established.

In a statement to the CBC, the U of R said that Biletski voluntarily assumed any risk associated with dives through her training and her experience.

In the same CBC article, the university claimed that the club had a responsibility to ensure pool facilities were safe for the swimmers, including assessing both the water level and determining if entry was safe for swimmers from the diving blocks.

According to the Regina Leader-Post, a statement of defence released for the Pirahnas was read in court and it denies that the pool rental contract with the university relieved the university of any liability in the case of injury.

The university claims even if they were found liable—which they are currently denying— Biletski is also guilty of contributory negligence for failing to exercise judgment, according to the Post.

According to the CBC, she is seeking “millions of dollars” in damages in the three-week trial with a six-person jury.

Biletski recently transferred from Camosun College to attend the University of Victoria to work towards her bachelor of arts in health and recreation, according to the Canadian Paralympic Committee website.