This decision dealt with a lawsuit brought by Industrial
Alliance Insurance ("IA") against a defendant formerly
employed by a Calgary area dentist. During the defendant's
employment, the defendant remitted multiple fraudulent insurance
claims on her behalf, and on behalf of her common-law partner. In
total, $10,989.69 was stolen in the course of 27 fraudulent
The defendant was charged and plead guilty under the Criminal
Code, serving 14 days in prison along with 25 hours of community
service. Furthermore, the defendant also paid back to IA all the
money that was stolen.
Despite the criminal conviction and repayment, IA still sued the
defendant for $25,000 in general damages along with $10,000 in
punitive damages. At trial, the general damages claim was dropped
and only punitive damages were claimed. Punitive damages are
generally only awarded to punish and renounce a defendant's
actions when they are egregious, high-handed and malicious.
It is common to see punitive damages awarded in cases of fraud.
What is less common is seeing them awarded when the defendant has
not only paid the money back, but has also been criminally
sanctioned. Courts will often decline to award punitive damages
where criminal sanctions have essentially provided the same result
of punishment and deterrence. Judge Burt's very brief decision
observed that the defendant only admitted to wrongdoing after being
charged criminally and sued civilly. Judge Burt also held that the
defendant's actions were sufficiently reprehensible and
deserving of punitive damages, which she awarded in the amount of
$2,500. Finally, Judge Burt opined that if the only consequence of
the defendant's actions was the repayment of the fraudulently
obtained funds, the defendant would be no worse off than if she had
acted honestly. What was not discussed, as is usually the case, was
the punishment meted out criminally.
While criminal sanctions have historically not been a bar to
punitive damages, the combination is unusual. This case will be
useful to plaintiffs such as employers or insurers in arguing that
punitive damages are warranted, despite the successful criminal
conviction of an employee or insured. Finally, while the
possibility of punitive damages may exist, there may be non-legal
consequences, such as the negative optics of being
"heavy-handed", that should be considered before deciding
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Alberta is going through a difficult economic period. These times can be challenging and while owners struggle to get their business through the rough patch, they want to preserve the assets and capital they have built up.
Legal issues surrounding contaminated sites affects landowners, developers, realtors, as well as consultants and contractors working on the front lines. This webinar will provide a practical review of how the legislation is actually being used, recent court decisions, challenges with brownfield developments, and future changes.
Who Should Attend: This webinar will be of interest to developers, contractors, environmental and real estate consultants, realtors, owners or lessors of land which may be impacted, and municipalities.
Under B.C.'s former and current Limitation Act, the limitation period for a Plaintiff's claim can be extended on the basis of a Defendant having acknowledged in writing some liability for the cause of action.
Automobile drivers, like fine wine, tend to get better with age. Older drivers can draw on a wealth of experience from their years on the road to assist them when faced by a variety of dangerous conditions.
The insurance industry will be interested in Ledcor Construction Ltd v. Northbridge Indemnity Insurance Co because of principles the Supreme Court of Canada applied to the "faulty workmanship" exclusion in a Builders' Risk policy.
For the first time in BC, a Court has decided that an insured is entitled to special costs, rather than the lower tariff costs, solely because they were successful in a coverage action against their insurer.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).