It is reassuring to know that the Courts will order significant damages for assaults and battery. Money will never return to the victim his or her emotional well-being as is often permanently displaced by a tort which is criminal in nature.

But a pittance (nominal) award re-victimizes. Many judges live in wealthy districts and are shielded from the violence that occasionally erupts within a community. They seem unable to appreciate the real harm done by an assault, deferring to expert reports on loss, but rarely, if ever, truly recognizing the permanent effect on any human being of a gratuitous assault.

There are occasional pittance awards - some summarized below - but for the most part, the reaction of the Court when it comes time to fill in the box in a judgment under the heading of Damages, reflects the best our system of justice appears capable of doing.

$135,000 - The Fly Kick

Amir Sám Nakhjavani sues Mr. Parham Changizi were playing soccer, each on opposing teams, in a friendly game organized between two cultural communities, and not refereed.

Nakhjavani was a law student.

Changizi was not a regular and from the opening play, he seemed to have a hate on for Nakhjavani, taunting and challenging him. There were several aggressive incidents during the game between them. Changizi refused to shake hands after it. An organizer, sensing trouble, told both players to leave the park immediately.

"Mr. Nakhjavani complied and walked to the rear of the bleachers, to gather and pack his personal effects.

"This is when Mr. Changizi swiftly ran up the bleachers, jumped off and, while in midair, fly-kicked the right side of Mr. Nakhjavani's face....

"(Nakhjavani) underwent eight hours of reconstructive surgery, as four titanium plates were inserted. His jaw was dislocated and needed to be wired shut. An orbital fracture needed to be repaired."

Changizi was charged with aggravated assault and he received a paltry conditional sentence, a term of six months to be served in the community - no prison!

assault fist imageIn the civil trial, Mr. Justice Pierre Gagnon of the Superior Court of Quebec noted the criminal conviction and could find no provocation justifying the kick. He assessed damages at $100,000 and added another $10,000 in punitive damages.

$50,000 - Bar Attack

Teddy Tootoosis was at the Vibe Nightclub in Saskatoon owned by defendant corporation, when he was assaulted by club employees.

Tootoosis only recollection is waking up in the intensive care unit at the Royal University Hospital. The events were reconstructed from witnesses.

From the judgment of Justice Baynton of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench:

"(Tootoosis's) friend ... observed ... the assault..... He testified that ... he observed the plaintiff at the bar in an argument with several 'oriental guys', like the owner, who were accusing the plaintiff of stealing a cell phone. The plaintiff was denying the allegations.

"The friend realized that an altercation was imminent so he went over to the plaintiff and started to take him out of the premises. As they were walking out, the bartender jumped over the bar and began to assault them. The bartender was immediately joined by the rest of the individuals, some 14 in number who jumped on top of the plaintiff and his friend and began to hit and kick them. The bartender smashed a beer bottle over the friend’s head during the assault. The plaintiff was dragged outside the club.

"When the ambulance and the police arrived on the scene, they found the plaintiff lying face down with his pants pulled down across his hips. He was unconscious and unresponsive. It was later determined that as a result of the assaults, he suffered a concussion, multiple bruises, cuts to his head and chin, a broken jaw and broken teeth....

"The plaintiff is entitled to judgment as follows: general damages of $40,000 and exemplary damages of $10,000."

$39,100 - Good Samaritan

On October 29, 2005, Nicolas Barrette of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges (near Québec City) was at Palace Cabaret in Quebec City with a female acquaintance and her girl-friend, Melanie Rivard. Rivard's ex-boyfriend, Patrick Hubert showed up inebriated and started berating and swearing at her. Barrette pleaded with Hubert to leave the woman alone and with that, and with no warning, Hubert punched Barrette in the face, breaking his nose in several places.

Barrette needed surgery to repair the injuries to his nose and face.

Justice Frank Barakett awarded Barrette $38,000 in general damages, but no punitive damages, adding:

"In the final result, this award will cost the defendant $48,000 in real dollars (with interest) in addition to his lawyer's bill, which is already a heavy consequence for a single punch."

$35,000 - Hockey Fight

In Leighton v Best, Randy Leighton, 34, and Matthew Best, 23, were on opposing teams in an old-timers, beer-league ice hockey tournament called the Gentlemen's Hockey Tournament.anon hockey fight

It was February of 2004.

Apparently, Leighton accidentally high-sticked Best in the face. Best freaked out and both players dropped their gloves. Best reached in and ripped Leighton's helmet off, and landed the only punch which fractured Leighton's jaw.

Leighton's jaw was fractured in three places. His mouth was wired shut and he lost 25 pounds. He lost three teeth and thrice had corrective dental surgery.

Best's lawyer argued implied consent to the risk of a fight but Justice Riopelle disagreed:

"Best's conduct was unusual and beyond the scope of the ordinary standards applicable in Gentlemen's Hockey. The implied consent was to jostle, wrestle and maybe land a few harmless punches over protective gear.

"Best exceeded the scope of the implied consent by removing Leighton's helmet to land a punch of such force that there must have been an intention to injure or at least recklessness as to the consequences of such a hard blow."

Best was ordered to pay Leighton $35,000 in general damages.

$25,500 - Boxer Blindsides Soldier

Réjean Chiasson was with a group of acquaintances at a cottage in the wee hours of the morning of May 30, 2004, winding down a night of pub-hopping near Tracadie-Sheila in New Brunswick.

He was a 20-year old soldier stationed at Gagetown with the Canadian Army.

As luck would have it, the adjacent cottage was also the venue for a party, a stag for a hockey player which included ten members of the team, the Dalhousie Rangers. Their noise attracted some of the girls in Chasson's group who make their way to the stag. Chiasson and three others of his group walk over to the cottage occupied by the hockey team, knock, and ask to speak to Annie Boudreau, one of their female friends who they believe to be in the hockey players' cottage. Defendant Fontaine instantly lunges for the men and they run away, with hockey players in close pursuit. Except for Chiasson, who chooses not to run and he is tackled by drunk hockey players, including Luc Roy and Marc-André Fontaine, who instantly hit him - Roy, a 26-year old amateur boxer.

Chiasson stumbles and falls but this does not slow down the assault. Even when he is obviously stunned, the assailants continue to punch and kick him. When they finally disperse away from his bleeding body, he is dragged back to his cottage by his friends, who have by this time, called the police.

The police arrived and Chiasson was brought to hospital. The police observed that Fontaine's hands were blood-stained. Chiasson lost five teeth and suffered a broken jaw.

Madame Justice Lucie A. LaVigne Of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench awards Chiasson $18,000 in general damages and an additional $7,500 in punitive damages, as well as ordering Fontaine and Roy to pay Chiasson's $17,000 dental bill.

$12,000 - Unprovoked Attack

On September 27, 2003, 51-year old John Leszczak was assaulted by James Carter:

"The assault was an unprovoked and unjustified attack by the Defendant who reached through the open car window of the Plaintiff’s vehicle, grabbed a chain around the Plaintiff’s neck and punched the Plaintiff in the face. 

"When the Plaintiff got out of his car, the Defendant threw the Plaintiff onto a concrete driveway.  The Plaintiff bled profusely as he was then on blood thinners and in addition to the cut on the neck from the chain and a split lip from the blow, the Plaintiff’s temporomandibular joints were injured bilaterally and the Plaintiff’s back was slightly injured."

Judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta awarded Leszczak $12,000 in general damages, and a further $5,000 representing the estimated cost of future dental care.

$11,000 - Blind Punch

Yvan Désilets was minding his own business, waiting for a beer he had ordered, at the Resto Pub Howard, when Jean-Francois Sicotte blind-sided him with a vicious punch to the face, which Desilets never even saw coming.

Nor was there any reason for the blow. It was just Sicotte blowing off steam.

Désilets collapsed to the floor of the pub as Sicotte just walked out. Brought to the hospital by ambulance and bleeding profusely, Désilets suffered a broken nose and a broken orbital bone.

In reasons for judgment that leave much to be desired when it comes to a summary of the facts, it would appear that the victim discovered his assailant and sued him for damages in the Court of Quebec.

Justice Monique Fradette's award came up short in granting only $10,000 in damages, and a paltry $1,000 in punitive damages, especially given the gratuitous nature of the attack and the serious injuries sustained by the victim.

$7,000 - School Cafeteria Punch

Two 16-year olds were in the school cafeteria on December 20, 2001. Alexandre Trudeau was sitting down when he was approached by Jean-Francois Carignan. A wrestling match erupts and at one moment, Trudeau lifts his fist as if to bring down a punch upon Carignan but offers: "Shall we stop this?" Carignan agrees but as soon as Trudeau puts his guard down, Carignan nails him with a point-blank punch to the face.

Justice Pierre Bachand of the Court of Quebec observed that there had been some provocation in the seemingly consensual wrestling that preceded the punch and she allocated 30% liability to Trudeau: only 70% of her award of $6,000 in general damages and a further $1,000 for permanent disfugrement, was imposed on Carignan.

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