$120,000 Award for Police Assault Dismissed in Last Injury Case of 2018

When starting a personal injury lawsuit against the police it is important to consider giving notice to the municipality employing the officers.  This $120,000 injury case was dimissed because the claimant failed to give the municipality notice of the claim within two months.(Lapshinoff v. Wray,2018 BCSC 2315).

Section 286 of the Local Government Act, currently reiterated as s. 736 of the Local Government Act, R.S.B.C. 2015, c. 1, provided that a municipality is not liable for damages unless written notice setting out the time, place and manner in which damage has been sustained is delivered to the municipality within two months from the date on which the damage was sustained.

The lawsuit against Saanich in respect of its vicarious liability for the actions of the individual police officers was dismissed. The court reiterated that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

To expose the truly harsh hand of the law for victims of police violence, the judge gave this dysphemistic reason,

[46] … the only function of the statutory notice requirement is to provide a technicality behind which the municipality and its insurers can hide to defeat otherwise worthy claims.

An Amended Notice of Civil Claim was filed over three year after the incident adding allegations of willful misconduct and a claim of gross negligence. The significance of these added allegations was that if either was proven, the police officers would be denied the protection of s. 21(2) of the  Police Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 367. These claims were also dismissed.

The law deems shared responsibility by claimant and lawyer to give notice when the claimant retains a lawyer for suing the police for damages before the 2 month statutory notice period has expired. Ensure, when appropriate, municipalities are given proper notice and that gross negligence and wilful misconduct are included in the notice of civil claim filed. This is beyond the control of lawyers when claimants delay in seeking legal advice.

Being the last posted injury case of 2018, there have been over 2,315 civil cases heard by the Supreme Court in 2018.

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