Defendant Ordered to Pay $7,500 After "Body-Checking" Plaintiff During Debt Collection
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, ordering a Defendant to pay a Plaintiff $5,000 in non-pecuniary damages and a further $2,500 in punitive damages following an assault during a debt collection.
In today’s case (Ross v. Dhillon) the Plaintiff attended the Defendant’s business to collect an outstanding business account with respect to some industrial equipment purchased by the Defendant. The Defendant made partial payment and the Plaintiff, unsatisfied with this, removed a part from the equipment. As he attempted to leave the Defendant “body‑checked him into the door frame and held him against it for several seconds.”.
The Court found this incident caused a minor aggravation of pre-existing injuries the Plaintiff suffered in a collision. In assessing damages at $7,500 Mr. Justice Smith provided the following reasons:
 I therefore find that the plaintiff experienced a minor and short‑lived aggravation of his neck and back symptoms, accompanied by an equally minor and short‑lived condition that produced some numbness in his hand…
 Considering the minor nature of the plaintiff’s injuries, including the brief aggravation of his previous symptoms and including a component for aggravated damages, I award the plaintiff non‑pecuniary damages of $5,000.
 I also find this to be an appropriate case for punitive damages. The defendant’s conduct was willful, reckless and dangerous. While his conduct was at the low end of any scale that would measure violent conduct, no amount of violence was an acceptable response to this dispute about a relatively small debt.
 In Van Hartevelt v. Grewal, 2012 BCSC 658, the court awarded $10,000 in punitive damages to a plaintiff who was beaten about the head and kicked in the ribs. The violence in this case was much less severe, and I award punitive damages of $2,500.