Damages awarded to victims of conjugal violence

A man who subjected his ex-wife to nine years of domestic violence was ordered by Quebec Superior Court to pay her nearly $47,000 in damages, the second time in less than a month that a Quebec court ordered an abusive spouse to pay damages for the violence they inflicted.

In a decision welcomed by family law experts and advocates against family violence who believe it is the harbinger of an emerging trend, Quebec Superior Court Justice Gregory Moore held that recent amendments to the federal Divorce Act (Act) “underline the sensibility that the the courts and parties must demonstrate faced with this challenge” to society. Justice Moore awarded more than $1,900 in damages, $30,000 in non-pecuniary damages and $15,000 in punitive damages.

“This is a developing trend because society in general rejects family violence, because there is heightened awareness by the courts over the issue of family violence, and because domestic violence is no longer viewed by the courts as being only a ground for granting divorce but as a possible cause of physical and psychological harm that must be compensated,” said Michel Tétrault, a family law expert who has written Droit de la famille.”

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In the news

Four men who bilked an 87-year old former teacher suffering from dementia were ordered by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal to pay her family nearly $380,000 in damages for financial exploitation and for preying on her vulnerable state.

“Evidence clearly demonstrates the defendants used their postion to the detriment of Ms. Even’s interests, who was an elderly person, handicapped and vulnerable,” held Judge Mario Gervais in Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Even) c. Lessard (Calfeutrage Multi-Scellant), 2020 QCTDP 3.

“The Court concludes that the defendants breached her right to the protection against exploitation, in violation of s. 48 of the (Quebec) Charter.”

But Judge Gervais also has choice words against the financial institution that Gemma Evens, since deceased, used. Judge Gervais said he is “perplexed” by the little action that a Laurentian Bank branch took when it noticed that $313,000 was taken out from her bank account over an 18-month period.

“This amount is stunning by its magnitude, given Ms. Even’s financial habits,” noted Judge Gervais. “It is distressing that the bank accepted Ms. Evan’s responses (when questioned about her withdrawals), without considering alerting competent authorities in spite of the presence of worrisome signs of financial exploitation.”

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Supreme Court holds rioters not solidarily liable for damages to police cars

Rioters who damaged police cars after a Montreal hockey game can only be held liable for the specific damage they caused personally, and cannot be held responsible for damage caused by other rioters to the same vehicle, ruled the Supreme Court of Canada, capping off a week to forget for the City of Montreal.

In a 6-1 decision, the nation’s highest court provided guidance on when solidary liability attaches to wrongful acts under the Civil Code of Quebec, days after the city lost two major decisions dealing with pension matters before the Quebec Court of Appeal.

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Court awards former Quebec paramedics $1.2M over subway scare

Montreal’s transit authority has been ordered by Quebec Superior Court to pay two former paramedics more than $1.2 million for a scare that left them unable to work in their profession.

The ruling highlights one of the singular situations where an injured worker can bring a civil suit even though one of the cardinal principles behind Quebec’s occupational health and safety regime is that workers cannot bring a civil liability suit against their employer because of the injury.

“This is an interesting ruling because civil actions for damages to recuperate losses that exceeds the benefits received under the Act are very rare,” remarked Laurence Bourgeois-Hatto, a Montreal labour and employment lawyer specializing occupational health and safety matters.

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Bell ExpressVu ordered to pay $82 million to Videotron over pirated television signals

The Quebec Court of Appeal has ordered Bell ExpressVu to pay over $82 million to Quebecor Inc. subsidiaries Videotron Ltd. and TVA Group Inc. for failing to prevent the piracy of its satellite signal in a ruling that clarifies the application of the business judgment rule.

In a singular ruling that set aside the traditional deference shown to a trial judge’s assessment of damages, the appeal court revised a 2012 lower court decision that ordered Bell to pay approximately $339,000 to Videotron and $262,000 to TVA after it held that the trial judge’s analysis of expert evidence contained a “palpable and overriding error” when calculating the award. Quebecor estimates that the total sum will amount to $137 million including capital, interest and costs, according to a written statement.

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BMO ordered to pay nearly $27 million to a Quebec company

The Bank of Montreal has been ordered by the Quebec Court of Appeal to pay a Quebec enterprise a staggering $26.8 million, including interest and costs, for acting in bad faith, the second time in less than a year that Canada’s fourth largest bank was on the losing end of a multi-million dollar lawsuit in Quebec.

The ruling, the latest in a recent series of judgments that clearly signals that the Quebec Court of Appeal has jettisoned restraint when awarding damages against organizations that act in bad faith, has sharply divided Quebec’s legal community, with some calling it a wake-up call for financial institutions while others grumble that the ruling makes for bad law.

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Cardiologist who had sex with patient ordered to pay $100,000

A cardiologist who had sexual relations with a patient was ordered by the Quebec Court of Appeal to pay $100,000 in damages to a former patient after it was determined that he had unlawfully interfered with her right to dignity and physical well-being, as per the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

In a majority decision, the Court of Appeal held that the Dr. Jean Hamel took advantage of his ex-patient’s vulnerability and the power he exercised over her to carry out actions that demonstrated “total insensitivity” towards her condition.

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