Craven v. Osidacz Estate, 2017 ONSC 1757

Material Facts

This matter involves a serious assault scenario where the Defendant entered the home of their former spouse, the Plaintiff, under the veil of a right of access and stabbed their son to death. The Wrongful damages claim proceeds by way of Part V of the Family Law Act, for loss of guidance, care and companionship. The relationship and closeness between the Plaintiff and her now deceased son was in no way challenged at trial.    

Issues

  1. What is the quantum of damages for the Wrongful Death and assault upon the minor child?

Brief Answer

The upper limit for a wrongful death is roughly $125,000.00 in 2017, and subject to adjustment based on the date of Judgment and the Consumer Price Index.

Analysis

Citing the decision in To v. Toronto (City) Board of Education, 2011 O.J. No. 3490, the court assessed damages for wrongful death in the amount of $100,000. In that case, a tragic accident took the life of a child with $100,000 being payable to each of the child’s parents. The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the award of damages and has since been the benchmark for assessing damages for wrongful death in many cases. T.R. Lofchik J., at [35] found that the kind of strong bond between the Plaintiff and her son demonstrated at trial would see damages awarded in this range.

Following Fiddler v. Chiavetti, 2010 Carswell Ont 1670 (Ont. C.A.) the Court off appeal’s decision applied in respect of adjusting damages with the consumer price index based on the progression of time since To, to $125,000 at the upper end of the range for this particular matter. 

The court then followed the case of Soczek v. Soczek, 2016 ONSC 3701 (Ont. S.C.J.) in assessing Aggravated and punitive damages. In that case a husband set their ome on fire and stabbed his wife while she attempted to escape. Quoting Soczek, at  [41] T.R. Lofchik J., stated that:

Aggravated Damages may be awarded where a battery has occurred in humiliating or undignified circumstances. These damages serve to take into account any aggravating features of the case and to that extent increase the amount awarded for general damages.

Further citing Soczek at [45] T.R. Lofchik J., reiterated the Supreme Court’s objectives for Punitive damages.

The objective of punitive damages go beyond punishment and deterrence. They also include denunciation being the means by which the trier of fact expresses [their] outrage at the egregious conduct of the defendant. 

In addressing the award of both Aggravated and Punitive damages T.R. Lofchik quoted the Supreme Court in Vorvis v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 1085 (S.C.C.), cited in Plester v. Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co., 2006 CarswellOnt 5536 (Ont. C.A.):

Punitive damages, as the name would indicate, are designed to punish. In this, they constitute an exception to the general common law rule that damages are designed to compensate the injured, not to punish the wrongdoer. Aggravated damages will frequently cover conduct which could also be the subject of punitive damages, but the role of aggravated damages remains compensatory.

Conclusion

The Court ordered damages as follows: The Plaintiff was entitled to $100,000 in damages for wrongful death, $75,000 in aggravated damages and $50,000 in punitive damages on that issue.     

Antonio Meringolo
Written by

Antonio is a litigator with Lemieux Law. His practice focuses on motor vehicle accidents, accident benefits, occupiers’ liability, personal injury, long-term disability, wrongful & constructive dismissal, CPP disability, human rights, general litigation and WSIA Appeals. When Antonio is not practicing law, he enjoys playing hockey, working on cars, and visiting family in southern Italy.