Security company held responsible for employee’s tort

The world’s fifth-largest purveyor of armored car and security guard services was ordered to pay $782,000 to an insurance company after Quebec Superior Court held that it was liable for tort committed by one of its employees who set fire to a vacant YMCA building in downtown Montreal.

“The suit essentially rests on the delicate and controversial question surrounding the liability of the principal for the intentional fault of its employee,” noted Justice Chantal Masse in Axa Assurances inc. c. Groupe de sécurité Garda inc. Continue reading “Security company held responsible for employee’s tort”

Slapshot costs mom $44,000

A mother has been ordered to pay $44,000 in damages after his 15-year old son slapped a puck that accidently struck a nine-year old boy in the face at an outdoor rink.

In a 10-page ruling, Quebec Superior Court Justice Julien Lanctôt held Yannick Rousseau to be mostly responsible for the accident that knocked out Samuel Bonneville’s three front teeth. Samuel had to undergo more than $40,000 in dental work, and missed a month of school.

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Suicide not a workplace injury, rules tribunal

On Sunday, January 23, 2005, Detective Sergeant Denis Matteau told his wife that he had to go to the office, even though it was his day off, to prepare his testimony for a high-profile murder trial involving Michel Usereau, a former police officer turned private security firm director accused of shooting a business competitor.

Matteau, who forged over the course of a career spanning more than twenty years a reputation as a perfectionist, led the investigation in the Usereau case. It was a case that “perturbed” him. In the weeks that preceded the trial, Matteau’s manner had changed. He closed up, and concentrated on the Usereau case, day, night and weekends. He avoided family gatherings, no longer worked out, and barely slept. Continue reading “Suicide not a workplace injury, rules tribunal”

Insurers risk hefty bill if they (erroneously) conclude they have no duty to defend

Insurance companies who conclude that they have no duty to defend an insurer facing an action, and by extension no obligation to indemnify, risk being surprised with a hefty bill, following a ruling by the Quebec Court of Appeal.

In a ruling that repeatedly hammers the distinction between a liability insurer’s duty to defend with its obligation to indemnify, the appeal court warns insurance companies that it cannot come to the hasty conclusion that it has no duty to indemnify simply because it has no duty to defend.

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Quebec Appeal Court overturns ruling dealing with Mulroney-Schreiber affair

The Quebec Court of Appeal overturned a ruling that temporarily suspended a civil suit launched by German-Canadian lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber against former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney until the so-called Oliphant inquiry delivered its final report.

Schreiber filed a suit based on a verbal contract he alleges he reached with Mulroney in Hull, a town located across from the nation’s capital. But the 74-year old deal maker sought to suspend the suit, arguing that his examination before a public inquiry could cause him harm as Mulroney could use information obtained in the course of examination against him. Continue reading “Quebec Appeal Court overturns ruling dealing with Mulroney-Schreiber affair”

Mental health court launched, though skepticism lingers

In the works for the past two years, the Montreal Municipal Court became the latest jurisdiction in Canada to launch a mental health court even though a coalition of local community organizations sought a moratorium and a study to examine the effectiveness of specialized courts for mentally ill people.

Modelled after the Toronto Mental Health Court, the three-year pilot project has put in place a multidisciplinary team to deal with mentally ill people charged with minor criminal offenses. Based on a therapeutic model of criminal justice that seeks to provide a dignified and compassionate approach to dealing with accused persons afflicted with mental illness or developmental disabilities, the Court sits five days a week during the afternoons.

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Quebec minister has wide powers over immigration rules appeal court

The Quebec government has wide discretionary powers to issue selection certificates to foreign nationals seeking to settle permanently in the province, according to two rulings issued concurrently in related matters by the Quebec Court of Appeal.

Indeed, the Court points out that under the Act respecting immigration to Québec (the Act), the Quebec Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities can issue selection certificates to applicants who do not satisfy conditions and selection of criteria established by government policy, or refuse applicants who meet the conditions. Continue reading “Quebec minister has wide powers over immigration rules appeal court”

Alimony rights for common-law spouses at stake in wealthy couple’s battle

A legal battle pitting a Brazilian aspiring model against a wealthy Montreal businessman may have all the ingredients of a riveting soap opera but at stake lies a constitutional challenge that strikes at the heart over the financial duties of common-law partners in Quebec.

The 35-year-old woman, who mothered three of the man’s children, is challenging the law that mandates spousal payments for couples who only have been legally married. Before Quebec Superior Court, she is seeking $56,000 in alimony and a share of his wealth. The identities of the protagonists are protected by the court, as is the case in Quebec when family law cases involve children.

“I want to help women who are in the same situation,” said the woman said outside the courtroom, adding she had assumed she had the same rights as women who are legally married. “Not many people know about the law.”

According to Statistics Canada, 35 per cent of couples in Quebec are unmarried, and 60 per cent of children are born out of wedlock. In the rest of Canada only 18 per cent of couples live together.

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Elderly molester to serve sentence in seniors home

A 93-year old man who sexually abused his daughters nearly fifty years go was condemned to two years less a day to be served in the community due to his advanced age and health problems.

Philippe Hamelin, convicted on a number of charges, including incest, sexual molestation and assault causing bodily harm for incidents that took place between 1956 and 1963, is now deaf and nearly blind, has skin cancer and suffers from a disease akin to Alzheimer’s.

The Crown was seeking a prison sentence of between seven and nine years while Hamelin’s lawyer had asked for two years less a day in the community.

Quebec Court Judge André Perreault decided against a prison sentence because of Perrault’s frail health.

“Mr. Hamelin might very well have been given that seven-year sentence if the decision needed to have been made during the decades that followed the crimes, even if he were old and had certain health problems,” Justice Perreault, noting that the convicted molester was unrepentant. “Only the exceptional circumstances I have described regarding Mr. Hamelin’s current health lead me to stray so far, and for humanitarian reasons, from imposing a normal sentence.”

Dealing with the elderly is a thorny issue that the justice system must grapple with, sooner or later. In Canada, older offenders account for 13% of the offender population. A 2004 report by the U.S. National Institute of Corrections found that the number of state and federal prisoners ages 50 or older rose 172 percent between 1992 and 2001.

The Correctional Service of Canada noted that “the combination of the physical health problems and the type of health care available at the prison often requires that the older offender be transferred to community medical facilities” – an expensive endeavour.

Another report concludes: “The incarceration of older prisoners, who represent the smallest threat to public safety but the largest cost to taxpayers to imprison, exemplifies failed public policy that favours imprisonment over more cost-effective alternatives.”

England too is wrestling with the issue. Anne Owers, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons since 2001, examined the issue of older prisoners in England and Wales in a comprehensive 126-page report and concluded that “the prison system in general is ill-equipped to meet their needs and its responsibilities.” The prison watchdog recently lamented that little has changed since the report was published four years ago.