Pennwood Dairy is being sued by Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI).

MPI is suing Pennwood Dairy, located a couple of miles west of Giroux. The lawsuit stems from a fatal crash that happened in September of 2022.

According to Steinbach RCMP, officers responded to a collision on September 24, 2022. Police say six motorcycles were travelling west along PR 311, near Road 36E. Officers determined that the six motorcycles were heading west along PR 311 when they drove into mud debris lying on the highway. The lead motorcycle lost control and the driver was thrown from his bike. Forty-five-year-old Denis L'Heureux of Winnipeg was then struck by an eastbound pickup truck. He was pronounced dead on scene.

Police say the other motorcycle drivers had also lost control in the mud but were able to successfully put down their bikes. No other physical injuries were reported.

MPI has now filed a statement of claim with the Court of King's Bench against Pennwood Dairy, its owner Gilmer Penner, and a John Doe. The statement of claim states that Pennwood owns the farmland located adjacent to PR 311, between Road 36E and Road 37E, and that Penner and an employee (John Doe) were operating farm machinery onto the roadway.

"The farm machinery left heavy, slick mud upon the entirety of the westbound and eastbound travel lanes of the roadway," says the statement of claim. "Penner was vicariously liable for the acts and omissions of its employees Penner and/or Doe while Penner and/ or Doe were operating the farm machinery across or onto the roadway, in the ordinary course of their employment with Pennwood."

The statement of claim goes on to say that on September 24, 2022, at approximately 1 pm, the motorcycles were being operated by their respective owners westbound on the roadway, when suddenly and without warning the motorcycles encountered heavy, slick mud upon the roadway. It says the drivers lost control and were ejected from their motorcycles, damaging the machines. 

"The plaintiff states that Penner and/or Doe owed a duty of care to the owners of the motorcycles to operate the farm machinery across or onto the roadway in a prudent and reasonable manner," says the statement of claim.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendant:

  • failed to ensure that the farm machinery traversed the roadway in accordance with generally accepted standards of the farming industry at the time,
  • failed to exercise reasonable, or any, care, skill, diligence, or competence in traversing the roadway in the farm machinery,
  • failed to post reasonable, or any, signage warning roadway users of the muddy hazard ahead,
  • failed to post reasonable, or any, signage instructing roadway users to slow down prior to traversing over the muddy roadway,
  • failed to take reasonable, or any, steps to have the roadway closed to users by the appropriate authorities when it was reasonably foreseeable that it could not be travelled upon without causing injury or damage to its users,
  • failed to take reasonable, or any, steps to clean or clear the mud hazard from the roadway to ensure it was entirely safe, fit, and suitable for its intended purpose, and did not pose a danger to its users.

MPI is seeking $34,946.77 for towing costs and repairs to motorcycles. The statement of claim states that Penner, Doe, and Pennwood have refused or neglected to pay the amount owing to date, despite demands from MPI. 

Pennwood Dairy has declined comment at this time.