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Lerners’ Lawyer Succeeds at Trial in Historic Abuse Case against Victims’ Uncle

Milne v. Betts, 2012 ONSC 5565

Over 40 years ago, C.M. and T.D. were sexually abused by their uncle, E.B when they visited their grandparents’ home where he lived. When C.M. was 6 years old, E.B. began trying to gain her trust with special treatment, using shared activities as opportunities to assault her. E.B.’s assaults escalated from fondling to finally attempting to have intercourse with C.M., causing her significant physical trauma. The abuse had a lasting emotional impact on C.M. She felt she had to try very hard to please people and appear confident, while in private she struggled with intrusive memories of the abuse. T.D. was 11 when her uncle E.B. began to assault her. The assault progressed from fondling to digital penetration and oral sex and continued for over a year. As a result, T.D. has suffered flashbacks that trigger panic attacks. Both C.M. and T.D. were found to suffer symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and depression.

C.M. and T.D. brought a claim against E.B. for compensation for their pain and suffering and other damages. E.B. did not defend the claim and was deemed to admit the allegations made against him. After trial, the judge awarded C.M. $175,000 for pain and suffering, an additional $50,000 in aggravated damages to recognize the humiliating and degrading nature of the assaults, $20,000 for lost earning capacity, and $25,000 in punitive damages. The judge awarded T.D. $200,000 for pain and suffering, $50,000 in aggravated damages, $5,000 for lost earning capacity and $25,000 in punitive damages. The judge also ordered the defendant E.B. to pay C.M. and T.D.’s legal costs on a substantial indemnity scale in the amount of $41, 617.49, because fairness and justice, as well as the Victims Bill of Rights, dictated that the victims not bear the costs of the action.

C.M. and T.D. were represented by Gillian Hnatiw, a partner at the Ontario law firm, Lerners LLP, who specializes in representing victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault. Gillian is part of a team in the Toronto office of Lerners LLP composed of lawyers and paralegals who share her interest in abuse-related legal matters. See Gillian’s biography for more information about her and her work in the area of civil liability for sexual abuse, or email her at ghnatiw@lerners.ca.

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