Compensation Awards in Sexual Assault Cases – Case Summary #2

M.B. v. 2014052 Ontario Ltd. (Deluxe Windows of Canada) 2012 ONCA 135

M.B. moved to Canada in 2002 and began working at Deluxe Windows of Canada (“Deluxe Windows”) in December 2003 as a commissioned salesperson. She worked there until May of 2005. In 2004, she was sexually assaulted on four occasions by her direct supervisor, who was a part-owner of Deluxe Windows. The assaults were violent and the supervisor threatened to kill M.B. He was convicted of criminal charges and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for these assaults.

After the assaults, M.B. was afraid to leave her home and began sleeping with double locks on her bedroom door. She suffered nightmares, difficulty sleeping, and loss of sexual desire. She also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, feelings of shame and suicidal thoughts.

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M.B. sued the supervisor who assaulted her, as well as her employer, Deluxe Windows. The trial was before a judge and jury. The jury awarded M.B. $300,000 for pain and suffering plus $25,000 in aggravated damages to recognize the humiliation and indignity caused by the defendants’ misconduct. $45,000 was also awarded for future health care costs.

The defendants appealed. Though they admitted responsibility for the sexual assaults, they claimed they were not responsible for the severity of the psychological conditions from which M.B. suffered, pointing to M.B.’s 14-year abusive marriage to her first husband and other possible causes. The defendants also claimed that the amounts awarded were unreasonably high. The Ontario Court of Appeal found there was no reasonable evidence that M.B.’s psychological conditions had been caused by events other than the sexual assaults. The Court of Appeal confirmed the award made to M.B., finding that while it was generous and higher than awards in other similar cases, it was not plainly unreasonable or unjust in the circumstances.

Elizabeth Grace heads the Toronto office sexual assault group, she is a partner at the Ontario law firm, Lerners LLP, and has specialized in sexual assault matters for almost two decades now. See her professional biography for more information about Elizabeth and her work in the area of civil liability for sexual abuse.

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