$550,000 punitive damages for Ontario employee.

An Ontario court came down hard on an employer that attempted to terminate an employee for cause without sufficient justification for doing so. The termination and the employer’s actions related to the termination resulted in a criminal trial and a chain of events that led to the destruction of the employee’s reputation, and, accordingly to the employee, his marriage. The trial judge initially awarded the employee $25,000 in punitive damages and aggravated damages of $75,000. The employee appealed the punitive damages award and a new trial was ordered. The trial judge then...

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$50,000 punitive damages for refusing to pay a fire loss.

On August 17, 2011, the insureds successfully sued their insurer in the British Columbia Supreme Court for losses suffered in a fire, as well as aggravated and punitive damages for the insurer’s refusal to pay, in Sidhu v. Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. In the early hours of February 7, 2005, the Sidhu’s family home was damaged by a fire. The plaintiff, Hardip Sidhu, was in the master bedroom with his wife and infant son before the fire started. He asked them to leave shortly before he heard something hit the bedroom window. He got dressed and looked around. His wife also looked outside...

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Manulife loses “want of prosecution” application.

On May 30, 2011, the BC Supreme Court decided that Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (“Manulife”), successor to the Aetna Life Insurance Co. of Canada (“Aetna”) was unsuccessful in its application for an order dismissing an applicant’s action for want of prosecution. The decision is reported at: Toor v Aetna Life Ins. Co., 2011 BCSC 691. In 1975 the applicant, Harbans Toor purchased a policy of long-term disability insurance from Excelsior Life and the policy was eventually acquired by Manulife. In the action, Mr. Toor claimed, among other things, for benefits under that...

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The significant role of expert evidence.

When presenting a claim at trial dealing with future loss it is vital to have appropriate expert evidence to justify sought damages.  Failure to do so can result in a dismissal of the sought damages even if they are unopposed.  Reasons for judgement released May 6, 2011 highlight the importance of medico-legal evidence in personal injury trials. In Moore v. Briggs the plaintiff suffered a fractured skull (fractured left temporal bone) and a brain injury in a 2003 assault. The plaintiff sued those he claimed were responsible for the assault.  One of the defendant’s did not respond to the...

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Punitive damages explained.

Punitive damages are particularly prevalent in the USA where they are often left to the discretion of a group of citizens, a jury, who may impose them when they determine that a defendant’s conduct has been uncivilized or to deter other from acting in such an underhanded way, to improve, generally, law and order, or simply to reward the plaintiff for his financial risks in litigating and enforcing the law. Where awarded, they are an exception to the rule that damages are to compensate not to punish. The exact threshold of punitive damages varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In...

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