Hall v. Niagara (Police Services Board), 2022 ONCA 288

Full Decision

The Court of Appeal heard this case on March 16, 2022. They upheld an award of $686,216.92 against the Regional Municipality of Niagara Police Services Board and Detective Steven Magistrale for false arrest, negligent investigation and malicious prosecution.

The‎ civil suit arose out of a police investigation resulting in the arrest of John Hall for alleged attempted theft of a copper bar from the General Motors assembly plant in St. Catharines in 2009. Hall was acquitted at a criminal trial in 2012. Hall launched the civil action in 2014 and the case was heard in 2019.

The Court of Appeal noted with approval that the trial judge had relied on expert evidence regarding the duty of a police officer to correct evidence at trial. The trail judge “found that after the Crown and the defence inaccurately answered a question posed by the criminal trial judge, Det. Magistrale did not meet his obligation of notifying the Crown of the correct answer, which would have assisted Mr. Hall in his defence.”

The trial judge also found that Detective Magistrale inappropriately “high fived” a crown witness and that his notes and testimony contained deliberate falsehoods.

In light of these findings, the civil trial judge found there had been false arrest, negligent investigation and malicious prosecution.

General damages were fixed at $50,000.00, special damages at $178,484.55 for both the legal costs at the criminal trial as well as to obtain disability benefits from his own insurer, and $395,777.00‎ was awarded for past loss of income. Costs of the civil trial were further awarded in the amount of $275,000.00.

Written by

Rob Konduros has been in practice for 34 years in Cambridge, Ontario and specializes in civil litigation with an emphasis on personal injury‎, disability and employment law.