Tag: Battery

Ontario Court Creates The “Tort of Family Violence”

Late last year a BC Supreme Court decision illustrated the fact that civil consequences for domestic violence can sometimes greatly outweigh even criminal consequences in a case where over $800,000 in damages were ordered to be paid.

This month the judiciary in Ontario blazed new legal ground by creating the tort of “family violence”.

In the recent case (Ahluwalia v. Ahluwalia)  the parties were involved in divorce proceedings following a violent marriage.  Over and above  the typical payments for spousal support the Court created the tort of ‘family violence’ and ordered $150,000 in damages to be paid for this wrong.  In creating this new tort the Court provided the following reasons:

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Nearly $800,000 In Damages Assessed Following Domestic Violence Leading To Physical And Psychological Injuries

Reasons for judgement were recently published by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating that civil litigation can be an important tool to help achieve justice following physical assault where criminal repercussions alone fail to address harm caused.

In the recent case (Schuetz v. Pyper) the Defendant battered the Plaintiff is a domestic incident.  He was charged with criminal assault and plead guilty but was sentenced to an absolute discharge.  The civil repercussions, however, were far heftier.

Both parties sued each other claiming battery.  The Defendant’s claims were dismissed and the Plaintiff’s accepted.  It was found that the domestic battery led to a host of physical and psychological injuries.  These were summarized by the Court as follows:

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$650,000 Damage Assessment Following Assault and Battery

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, ordering two defendants to pay over $650,000 in damages following an unprovoked attack.

In this week’s case (Andrews v. Shelemey) the Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants “came to his residence on August 3, 2015, as a result of a dispute concerning a transmission repair that Mr. Andrews had completed on Mr. Shelemey’s vehicle in late 2014 or early 2015. He says that without provocation, Mr. Shelemey and Mr. Leveque wrongfully and intentionally assaulted him resulting in serious injuries including a fractured sternum, soft tissue injuries to his back, rib fractures, a fractured lumbar vertebra, a broken tooth and various lacerations, bruises and contusions.”.

Despite the defendants denying fault the court found the unprovoked attack took place and held the Defendants jointly and severally liable to pay the damages.  In reaching this decision Mr. Justice Mayer provided the following reasons:

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BC Bullying Law – Unique Issues With Limitation Periods

A little appreciated fact are the broad timeframes at play when certain individuals can sue their abusers for either sexual or physical abuse.

For many years BC has had no limitation period for claims relating to sexual assault.  Whether the victim is a minor or an adult a lawsuit can be brought at any time against their sexual assailant. In cases without actual sexual assault but that amount to “misconduct of a sexual nature” there also is no limitation period if the victim was a minor at the time of the misconduct.

But what about cases of physical assault with no sexual nature?  Historically these were subject to the limits set out in BC’s Limitation Act.  However, in 2013 changes to the Act came into force which removed limitation periods for certain victims of non sexual abuse.

Section 3(1)(k) came into force and removed limitations for lawsuits based on

(k)a claim relating to assault or battery, whether or not the claimant’s right to bring the court proceeding was at any time governed by a limitation period, if the assault or battery occurred while the claimant

(i)was a minor, or

(ii)was living in an intimate and personal relationship with, or was in a relationship of financial, emotional, physical or other dependency with, a person who performed, contributed to, consented to or acquiesced in the assault or battery;

The broad section gives the right for children to sue their abusers at any time.  It also expands this right to those in financially, emotionally or physically dependent relationships with their abusers.

Assault and battery are legally simple concepts.  Battery simply refers to the unwanted application of intentional force.  Assault is the threat of the application of such force.  Anyone perpetrating these wrongs to vulnerable victims can be pursued at any time to be made accountable for their wrongdoing.  This expanded limitation period was discussed in a case published earlier this year by the BC Supreme Court.

In Khan v. School District No. 39 the Plaintiff sued for various historic allegations of harm.  In discussing those that were and were not statute barred Mr. Justice Majawa provided the following comments on the current state of the Limitation Act:

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Kamloops Catholic Church and Priest Ordered to Pay Over $800,000 After “Playboy Priest” Slept With Parishioner

Reasons for judgment were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, ordering a “playboy priest” along with the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops to pay over $800,000 in damages as a result of a sexual relationship between the priest and the Plaintiff parishioner dating back to the 1970’s.

In this week’s case (Anderson v. Molon) the Plaintiff was employed as an elementary school teacher at a Catholic school in Kamloops, BC.   The Defendant at that time an assistant pastor living in the rectory at the same parish.

After the Plaintiff’s father died she sought “comfort and solace” from the Defendant.  Instead a sexual relationship formed which the court summarized as follows:

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Adult Who Directed Assault of 14 Year Old High School Student Ordered to Pay over $479,000 in Damages

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages just over $479,000 following an assault by the then 45 year old Defendannt against a 14 year old Plaintiff.

In today’s case (Siegerist v. Tilton) the Plaintiff suffered serous injuries after an assault orchestrated by the Defendant.  The circumstances of the beating were summarized as follows:

[1]            On April 15, 2009, the plaintiff, Riley Siegerist, was assaulted moments after he left the grounds of his high school in Delta, B.C. to walk home. Mr. Siegerist was 14 years old and a grade 9 student at that time. Acting on the instruction of the defendant, Michael Tilton, two adult males, one or both wielding telescopic metal batons, jumped out of a vehicle driven by Mr. Tilton, ran after Mr. Siegerist, and physically assaulted him. When they paused at Mr. Tilton’s instruction, Mr. Siegerist was physically assaulted by Mr. Tilton’s eldest son, M.T. Mr. Tilton was approximately 45 years old at that time.

[2]            When A.S., a student standing nearby, tried to prevent Mr. Tilton from joining in the assault, Mr. Tilton head-butted him. Indeed, according to Mr. Tilton, after his son assaulted Mr. Siegerist, Mr. Tilton walked over to Mr. Siegerist and said words to the effect, “Are we even now?”

The Defendant was criminally convicted of two counts of assault causing bodily harm.  In the civil trial he unsuccessfully attempted to deny liability.

The assault caused serious physical and psychological injuries.  In assessing global damages at just over $479,000 including non-pecuniary damages of $125,000 Mr. Justice Walker provided the following summary of the injuries:

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Soccer Player Sentenced Following On-Field “Sucker Punch” Leading to Assault Conviction

Both civil and even criminal repercussions occasionally arise following recreational and even professional sporting assaults in Canada.  Reasons for sentencing were published this week by the BC Provincial Court highlighting a case of the latter.

In this week’s case (R v. Miletic) the Defendant sucker punched a fellow competitor during an adult league recreational soccer game in New Westminster, BC.  The punch “broke the victim’s orbital bone and caused him negative longer-term effects“.  At trial the Defendant was convicted of assault causing bodily harm.

The Court summarized the circumstances of the offence as follows:

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RCMP Constable Ordered to Pay $55,000 Following Wrongful Detention

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Smithers Registry, ordering an RCMP constable and the crown to pay $55,000 in damages to a Plaintiff who was injured during a wrongful detention.

In today’s case (Joseph v Meier) the Plaintiff was shopping at a retail store when another woman shopping in the same area of the store put a scarf into her bag and then, when confronted, threw the scarf to the floor and fled.  The plaintiff, who was elderly with limited mobility, continued shopping.  The store manager mistakenly believed the two women were together and had the police called.

When the Defendant RCMP constable confronted the plaintiff she “refused to stop or provide information to him. She repeatedly told him that she had done nothing wrong and did not need to talk to him” .  He took her to the ground and attempted to handcuff her while she resisted.  The Plaintiff was injured in the altercation.  In finding the Constable liable for false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery Madam Justice Brown provided the following reasons:

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Motorist Ordered To Pay $34,980 in Damages Following “Road Rage Incident”

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, ordering a motorist to pay almost $35,000 in damages after striking another motorist in the face.

In today’s case (Henderson v. McGregor) the parties were both operating motor vehicle moving in the same direction of travel.   The Plaintiff was concerned that the Defendant was not paying adequate attention.  The vehicles stopped close to each other and the Plaintiff exited his vehicle and approached the Defendant.  The Defendant “struck him without warning, grabbing and scratching his face causing lacerations and bruising and drew blood.”.

The Court found the Defendant liable for the torts of assault and battery and ordered damages just shy of $35,ooo to be paid including $2,000 in aggravated damages.  Mr. Justice Walker provided the following findings regarding liability:

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Occupier Not Liable for “Sudden, Random, and Apparently Unprecedented Act of Violence” By Customer

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing a lawsuit following a customer on customer assault at a commercial establishment.

In today’s case (Tanaka v. London Drugs Limited) the Plaintiff was shopping at London Drugs when another customer suddenly and unexpectedly punched the Plaintiff in the face knocking him unconscious.  The assailant remained unidentified.  The Plaintiff argued London Drugs should be vicariously liable for the assault either based on the principles of Negligence of Occupier’s Liability legislation.  In dismissing the claim and finding there should be no vicarious liability in the face of a “sudden, random, and apparently unprecedented act of violence” Madam Justice Horsman provided the following reasons:

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If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

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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