Sexual Assault and Vicarious Liability Claims are not "Too Complex" For a Jury

Useful reasons for judgement were recently released by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing a jury strike application in a personal injury lawsuit for damages from sexual abuse.
In the recent case (JG v. Kolesar) the Plaintiff was sexually abused by her teacher.  He was criminally convicted for his acts.  The Plaintiff sued him and his employer for damages alleging negligence and vicarious liability on the part of the School District.  The matter was set for trial by jury.  The School District opposed this and brought an application to strike the Jury Notice under Rule 12-6(5) arguing that  “the law on the questions of causation (the concept of indivisible injury), vicarious liability, and assessment of damages is all too complex for a jury to understand
Master Bouck disagreed and dismissed the School District’s jury strike application.  In doing so the Court provided the following helpful reasons:
[31]  On the question of causation, damages and the concept of indivisible injury, some authorities cited by (the School Board’s lawyer) have since been refined by the court of appeal’s decision in Bradley v. Groves, 2010 BCCA 361.  Notably, the appellate court has refined the method by which a finder of fact can determine causation and apportion damages where there are multiple tortfeasors contributing to the plaintiff’s injury and loss.
[32]  In my view, the step-by-step analysis set out in Bradley v. Groves can be nicely imported into a set of instruction and questions for the jury.
[33]  Accordingly, I am not at all pessimistic about the jury’s ability to decide the questions which the defence says are too complex in this litigation.  A trial judge will be perfectly capable of instructing a jury on the relevant legal concepts of causation, apportionment of damages, and vicarious liability…
[35]   Once properly instructed, the assessment of the plaintiff’s damages is most certainly not a question beyond the capability of a modern jury.  In my observation and experience, juries are often called upon to assess damages where there are multiple tort-feasors and pre-existing conditions.
Today’s case is unpublished however, as always, I’m happy to share a copy of the reasons for judgement with anyone who contacts me and requests a copy.

bc injury law, Indivisible Injuries, Master Bouck, Rule 12, Rule 12-6, Rule 12-6(5), Sexual Abuse Civil Cases

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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