In previous blog posts, we discussed recent cases where damages were awarded for assault injuries.
In Thomson v. Fraser 2021 BCSC 541, the injured claimant was a 21 year-old security guard at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver. The defendant was a private school teacher at the prestigious Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island. Before the assault, the defendant had “too much to drink” at a banquet. After the banquet ended, the defendant and others went to the lounge bar at the Pan Pacific to carry on drinking and socializing. The defendant became involved in a scuffle with other patrons. Security was called and the injured claimant responded to help diffuse the situation. After determining that the defendant was drunk and disorderly, the injured claimant proceeded to remove him from the bar. While escorting him out, he was sucker punched by the defendant in the face. He then attempted to flee the scene were he was pursued by hotel staff who apprehended him until the police arrived.
The defendant was charged criminally with assault causing bodily harm. He entered a guilty plea and was sentenced with a conditional discharge.
This case concerned a civil action for compensation for the injuries suffered in the assault.
As a result of the assault, the injured claimant suffered a badly and permanently damaged bony structure around his left eye. The consequences of this injury were marked and permanent. He was completely incapacitated for weeks after the assault. Emergency facial surgery was required. Metallic gear was fused into his fascial bones which causes him significant pain and discomfort when it is cold outside. There is a screw directly beneath his left eye that he can feel with his finger and causes a great deal of pain on incidental contact.
The injured claimant previously was in excellent physical health. In fact, he was a world class athlete who represented Canada on multiple occasions at international karate competitions. The injury forced him to abandon his long-cherished goal of becoming an RCMP constable. His mother was civilian member of the RCMP. Growing up, he had plenty of exposure to RCMP members and he desperately wanted to follow in their footsteps. His ambition was constant and serious. He twice attended the RCMP Youth Academy before he graduated high school. He applied to the force as soon as he was old enough. When he was told that there was a minor deficiency in his eyesight before the assault, he immediately and successfully underwent a laser procedure to correct it so that his application could proceed. The injured claimant testified that he was hoping to go to the RCMP depot the year after the assault. The trial judge concluded that it was likely he would have been recruited and hired by the RCMP if the assault never occurred. After realizing his dream of becoming an RCMP officer was lost, he decided to “pivot” his career path. He attended university for specialized training in criminal justice issues which led to his hire as an investigator with a New York law firm where his earnings are more than an RCMP officer. Despite this, the injured claimant testified that money was not the most important thing in his life and that if his injury could be magically healed, he would apply to the RCMP immediately. He continued to remain devastated by the loss of his ultimate career choice with the RCMP.
The trial judge awarded the injured claimant $226,000.00 in damages representing:
- $50,000.00 in pain and suffering
- $10,000.00 in aggravated damages
- $166,000.00 in past loss of earning capacity
For more information on this case, see the recent CBC article on this assault injury case.