Employment & Labour

Court of Appeal upholds $200,000 damage award in sexual assault case

By Kathryn Marshall

In this case, the Court of Appeal upheld a damage award of $200,000 (generals $175,000 and punitive damages of $25,000).

The plaintiff was a colleague of the defendant doctor and they both worked at a hospital. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant sexually assaulted her at her home, and then he launched a campaign of harassment against her at their workplace.

There are several significant items in this case:

  • The Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s determination that damages did not depend on a finding that the victim suffered long-term psychological trauma from one incident of sexual assault;
  • The Court of Appeal re-affirmed that damages for sexual battery or assault “fulfill a range of functions,” including the “recognition of the humiliating and degrading nature of the wrongful acts”; and
  • The fact that the defendant had not been punished criminally was a relevant factor in determining the awarding of punitive damages. The court’s awarding of punitive damages was, however, primarily based on the fact that the defendant’s behaviour was “morally reprehensible” and “should be punished and denounced.”

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