Ont SC Awards $100K Punitive & $25K Moral Damages to President

In Ruston v Keddo Mfg (2011) Ltd ( 2018 ONSC 2919 ) Justice Chiappetta awarded 19 months notice to 54 year old President making $289,000/ year with 11 years service.

However the interesting part of this case is the extraordinary damages. The judge set out in detail why she awarded these damages :

  1. During the termination meeting the employer told the plaintiff that if he sued the defendant for wrongful dismissal , they would counterclaim against him. He sued. They counterclaimed for $1.7 million dollars alleging fraud.
  2. The Defendant admitted threatening another terminated employee in the same fashion.
  3. The Defendant threatened him at the termination meeting by reminding him how expensive lawyers can be. In the course of the litigation the Defendant first told the Court that they would have 25 witnesses, then just before the trial 5 witnesses, then they only called 3.
  4. The Defendant did not allege cause at the time of termination, and did so for the first time in the defence and counterclaim.
  5. The Defendant called no evidence regarding the allegations of fraud, performance, personal attacks or improper disbursement of company funds for his personal benefit.
  6. The Defendant alleged damages in the counterclaim of $1.7 millions but after their expert testified, the Defendant dropped their claim to $1.00. The defendant had no intention of proving damages and just did this to intimidate the plaintiff.

The total judgment, excluding costs came to approximately $600,000.. The trial lasted 11 days. I suspect that the Plaintiff will be awarded costs on a substantial indemnity basis. Each side had two lawyers at trial. Total cost to the Defendant must be north of a million bucks after they pay their own lawyers.

Note . This case is not yet reported but you can get a copy from Plaintiff’s counsel, Andrew Monkhouse of Monkhouse Law. It should be online in a few days.