lCBC Punishes rioters

The last game of the 2011 Stanley Cup Hockey series was broadcast on a live television outside the CBC building at Georgia and Hamilton Streets in Vancouver BC.  When the game ended, a riot erupted here and several cars were burned outside the adjacent Canada Post Office building. Numerous vehicles were destroyed here, some of which are involved in this claim. ICBC sued numerous rioters for car damage and in this decision claimed payments from the defendant rioters .

The Supreme Court of BC stunned the Insurance Corporation of BC, ICBC, by refusing to award any punitive damages.  Judge Myers stated,

[128]   In this case all the defendants have been convicted criminally.  Assuming it to be relevant factor, there is nothing to indicate that the penalties they received were inadequate.  They have all been the subject of adverse publicity in the press and social media.  Further, if ICBC is not paid any amount of this judgment it may withhold issuing of a driver’s licence or insurance resulting in further penalisation:  Insurance (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996 c. 231, s. 93.1.  Given the age and the occupations of the defendants that scenario is a likely one even for the non-punitive damages.

[129]   I do not minimise the gravity of the conduct that took place.  Watching the videos of the rioting was a disturbing exercise because it illustrated a major part of a major city in complete disarray, caused by the intentional acts of the rioters.  It showed the delicate line between order and chaos.  However, the criminal sentences took into account the principles of denunciation and deterrence and tailored the sentences to the moral culpability of the accused.  While it is true, as pointed out by ICBC, that the accused were not charged with offences related to damage to property, I do not see that the sentences would have been different had that been the case because the factors that were taken into account in the sentencing included the property damage not only to vehicles but in general.

[130]   On that basis I decline to award punitive damages.  There comes a point when “enough is enough”.(I.C.B.C. v. Stanley Cup Rioters,2016 BCSC 1108)

This was not a directed or coordinated riot so the court did not accept that participation in the riot, in itself, established joint and several liability for torts committed during the riot.

 Several people spontaneously arriving at a vehicle and some of them cheering when another damaged the vehicle “does not amount to a common design”.  However, people “piling on” a vehicle in order to damage or destroy it may be joint tortfeasors if it is apparent they acted together pursuant to a common design to do the damage.

ICBC settled with a large number of the defendants before this hearing for which ICBC received credit.  However, the court did not agree with the ICBC proposition that  every one participating in the riot on Seymour Street should be jointly liable for damage done by participants on Howe Street.

This case is not yet complete as the court must still rule on further issues related to costs.

Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B 

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