Being the victim of a physical assault or abuse is a traumatic and devastating experience for anyone, and this is magnified in situations where the victim suffers lasting or permanent physical or psychological damage.
In a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision, the court upheld a decision that ordered a father to pay over $100,000 in damages for assault, battery, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty for physically and emotionally abusing his twin daughters.
Father Accused of Abuse by Daughters
The twin daughters were born in 1994 in Romania and moved to Canada with their mother and father. However, the mother died a year after a cancer diagnosis in 1999.
In 2002, the father moved out of the family home to live with another woman, leaving the daughters to live by themselves. In 2004, the daughters graduated from high school and began university. They continued to live in the family home until March 2005.
Then, on March 26, 2005, the father went to the family home to have dinner with the daughters, which led to an argument and physical confrontation. The daughters fled the home and filed a police report the next day, alleging assault, but ultimately decided not to press charges.
Subsequently, in 2012, the daughters sued the father for assault, battery, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, intentional infliction of mental distress, and wrongful imprisonment.
Daughters Allege Years of Abuse in Civil Suit
In their court application, the daughters alleged that on March 26, 2005, the father had beat them violently and threatened one of them with a knife.
In addition, they claimed that the assault was in fact the culmination of a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse by the father.
The daughters claimed the father beat them often, called them degrading names, isolated them from their peers and maternal relatives, and controlled their activities. They detailed the impacts of this abuse, which they said had caused them to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, resulting in their inability to continue their education or obtain adequate employment.
In response, the father denied ever having physically or emotionally abused the daughters.
Lower Court Awards Daughters Over $100,000 in Damages for Abuse
After a three-week trial, the trial judge found the father liable for assault, battery, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty for physically and emotionally abusing the daughters. Despite a lack of medical evidence, the trial judge largely accepted the daughters’ testimony about the assault and other incidents of abuse, finding that the father had been physically violent towards the daughters and stating that his“acts exceeded the reasonable discipline that parents may impose on their children.”
However, the trial judge dismissed the daughters’ claims for intentional infliction of mental distress and wrongful imprisonment, finding that the father had not socially isolated or controlled the daughters and that there was not enough evidence to prove that the father’s conduct had caused them to suffer from psychiatric disorders. Additionally, she held that the daughters had not proven loss of income or competitive advantage because of the father’s actions.
In the result, the father was ordered to pay the daughters a total of $85,000 as general damages and $20,000 as punitive damages.
The father appealed the findings of liability and the quantum of damages awarded at trial, while the daughters cross-appealed the dismissal of their claim for intentional infliction of mental distress and the quantum of damages.
Court of Appeal Dismisses Father’s and Daughters’ Appeals
The court began by addressing the father’s first ground of appeal, in which he alleged that the trial judge had erred in her factual findings or credibility assessments. After reviewing the trial judge’s reasons, the court dismissed this ground of appeal, finding no error in her analysis or conclusions.
The court then turned to the daughters’ claim, in which they argued that the trial judge made a palpable and overriding error by failing to draw a “common sense inference” that their psychiatric conditions were caused by the father’s abuse. The court noted that the trial judge had preferred the father’s expert evidence over that presented by the daughters but found no error in her assessment. The court thus dismissed this ground of appeal.
Finally, the court turned to the issue of damages. While the father argued that the damages awarded were “inordinately high”, the daughters claimed that they were “inordinately low”. In the result, however, the court held that neither the father nor the daughters had met the standard for appellate intervention in the assessment of damages and dismissed both claims.
In the result, the court therefore dismissed both the father’s appeal and the daughters’ cross-appeal.
When you meet with a personal injury lawyer at Campbell Litigation with respect to injuries suffered in an assault or sexual assault, we will begin by reviewing the relevant details with you and work to secure all available evidence. It is important to do this as early as possible, in order to preserve physical evidence and obtain witness statements while memories are still fresh.
Another initial focus will be ensuring that you receive all necessary medical attention for your injuries, so that you can start working on recovery right away. We want to ensure that you can concentrate on what is most important – your physical and mental well-being. We will connect you with our trusted network of medical professionals so that you can get to work on healing while we handle the other details on your behalf.
Please contact us today to arrange a no-obligation consultation with our caring and experienced personal injury lawyers. To reach a member of our firm, you can call us at 519-886-1204 or contact us online. We will work to maximize your compensation while shielding you from unnecessary additional stress following a traumatic event. We offer prospective personal injury clients a free initial consultation.