Obtaining punitive damages from police remains “high bar”

The challenge for plaintiffs to obtain punitive damages against police was plainly illustrated yet again according to legal experts after four victims of the 2012 election shooting in a Montreal downtown venue that targeted then-premier-elect Pauline Marois of the Parti Québécois won a partial victory following a court decision that awarded them nearly $300,000 in pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Philippe Bélanger found that the provincial and Montreal police forces committed a fault of omission and failed to ensure to ensure the safety of the public after they carried out a flawed security plan that allowed a gunman to kill lighting technician Denis Blanchette and seriously injure a second technician who was struck by the same bullet. Justice Bélanger ordered damages to be paid to Blanchette’s colleagues who survived the shooting after they successfully argued that they suffered from post-traumatic stress and other psychological damage following the shooting.

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