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Damages - Aggravated

Ruston v. Keddco MFG. (2011) Ltd. (Ont CA, 2019)

In Ruston v. Keddco MFG. (2011) Ltd. (Ont CA, 2019) the court canvasses principles applicable to aggravated (or moral) damages:
Aggravated/Moral Damages

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[13] The trial judge reviewed the applicable case law: see Reasons for Judgment, at paras. 143-147, citing Wallace v. United Corn Growers Ltd., 1997 CanLII 332 (SCC), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 701, at para. 95; Honda v Keays, 2008 SCC 39 (CanLII), 2 S.C.R. 39, at para. 60; Doyle v Zochem, 2017 ONCA 130 (CanLII), at para. 13. She noted correctly that employers have an obligation of good faith and fair dealing in the manner of dismissal and also that an employers’ pre and post termination conduct may be relevant to the moral damage analysis if such conduct is a component of the manner of dismissal: see Reasons for Judgment at para. 145. She was alive to the essentially compensatory nature of aggravated damages. She itemized in detail the conduct that she found to warrant the award.

[14] The evidentiary record provides ample support for the trial judge’s finding that the manner of dismissal warranted an award of aggravated damages. She found that the appellant’s conduct in threatening Mr. Ruston not to make a claim and in instituting the counter-claim was calculated to, and did, cause Mr. Ruston stress. She accepted Mr. Ruston’s evidence that the manner of dismissal was devastating and had caused him stress. In short, we see no error of law or principle, or palpable or overriding error of fact that would justify interfering with the trial judge’s award of $25,000 for aggravated damages.

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[18] It does not follow from the fact that this is the same conduct which the trial judge referred to in making the aggravated damages award that an award of punitive damages amounted to either double recovery or double punishment. That is because aggravated damages aim to compensate a plaintiff for heightened damages caused by the breach of the employer’s duty of good faith and fair dealing in the manner of dismissal, while punitive damages seek to punish and denunciate inappropriate or unfair conduct. ....


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