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Father Awarded $135,000 against Daughter for Defamation

Defamation_Father
Ungrateful children can sometimes cross the line with parents but in this case posting untrue accusations of pedophilia cost this child $135,000 (Z. v. Z.,  2016 BCSC 1730). False allegations regarding sexual misconduct with a minor are among the most serious and egregious allegations that one person can make against another, said the Supreme Court.

 The claimant father was a successful businessman who provided a home and stability for his daughter when she was between the ages of three and nine. When the daughter was an adult, the father provided her and her child,  X, with a home and stability. Because of the daughter’s poor lifestyle choices and general lack of interest in being a mother to X, the father essentially raised X and was very close to her.

 The daughter and her boyfriend lived with the father and X until the father wanted the boyfriend to move out. There was an argument and the police were called. She made no complaint to the police at that time of any sexual impropriety and left with X.

The father commenced proceedings for custody of X and in retaliation the daughter published a defamatory post on GoFundMe, a well-known fundraising website. She also initiated a criminal complaint against her father, alleging sexual impropriety with X.     The defamatory post was open to potentially millions of people. The post could be shared through Facebook, Twitter and email. The allegations were found to be bogus.

In awarding the father $75,000 for general damages the court commented, 

[92] The defendant made baseless allegations against her father after he began proceedings to gain custody of X. She made an unsubstantiated complaint to the police and when the initial investigation did not result in charges, she complained..

[93] The defendant’s defamatory post was read by people in her father’s circle. It turned up in a background check by a business associate. It resulted in a demonstrable loss of business for the plaintiff.

[94]         I am satisfied an award of $75,000 for general damages is merited.

The daughter’s defamatory post had a devastating impact on the father personally and professionally. Family, friends and clients distanced themselves from him. He stopped participating in the community like he used to and he changed the nature of his work to avoid dealing with people who are aware of the defendant’s defamatory post.

The father was also awarded $50,000 in aggravated damages. An award of aggravated damages requires proof that the daughter was motivated by actual malice, which was not hard to find. The daughter was motivated by revenge, monetary gain and a desire to hurt her father and thwart his efforts to gain custody of X. “Those factors collectively establish the existence of actual malice in the creation and sharing of the defamatory post by the defendant”.

Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.

Tags: aggravated damages, defamation

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