FOR TORTS – Affecting the individual – Assault – Abuse of authorized process or course of

FOR TORTS - Affecting the person - Assault - Abuse of legal procedure or process

Action by the 67-year-old plaintiff for damages against the defendant RCMP officer and the Attorney General for Canada for false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery and breach of her Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) rights. The plaintiff, who used a walker, stopped to have a conversation with an acquaintance while shopping in a retail store. The manager, who believed the two women were together, confronted the acquaintance about putting a scarf in her bag. The woman pulled the scarf out and ran from the store. The defendant officer attended at the store and told the plaintiff he wished to speak with her about shoplifting. The plaintiff refused to stop or provide information to him. The officer decided to place the plaintiff in handcuffs and arrested her for theft. The plaintiff resisted, and the officer took her to the ground. The plaintiff’s belongings were searched, and no stolen merchandise was found. She was released. She sustained bruising and abrasions to her legs, knees and hands, soft tissue injuries that resolved within two months, and headaches that lasted six months after the incident. Her pre-existing chronic pain and anxiety were aggravated.

HELD: Action allowed. The officer did not have reasonable grounds to arrest the plaintiff. He employed more force than was necessary. The plaintiff was falsely arrested, falsely imprisoned, assaulted and battered. She was not contributorily negligent. Her response to the unlawful arrest was within reason. The plaintiff was awarded general damages of $50,000. The wrongful arrest, detention and search were breaches of the plaintiff’s ss. 8 and 9 Charter rights. Charter damages of $5,000 were an appropriate remedy in vindication of her rights and in deterrence of future breaches and did not constitute double recovery. The officer’s conduct did not warrant aggravated or punitive damages. The officer did not come within the protection of the Police Act. The federal Crown was vicariously liable for the officer’s actions.

Joseph v. Meier, (2020) B.C.J. No. 846, British Columbia Supreme Court, B. Brown J., May 22, 2020. Digest No. TLD-July62020005