Largest Punitive Damage Award Ever Made in Canada

October 23, 2017, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

A recent decision by the B.C. Supreme Court has made was is thought to be the largest punitive damages award ever in Canada against a motorist in a hit and run accident. The Justice ruled the driver was reckless and showed disdain throughout the process.  Justice MacNaughton fined Leon Machi with $100,000 for lying and contempt for the rules of the road and for the legal process.

Mr. Machi drove his pickup truck into oncoming traffic lanes in order to get around traffic that was stopped for a red traffic light. He drove over the yellow lines and across a pedestrian island striking Ms. Howell, 22.

Throughout the trial the 34-year-old man he denied that he was the driver of the car which hit the 22-year-old woman and left her lying unconscious in the dark with a serious head injury. Mr. Machi fled the accident without stopping, and at no point did he cooperate with police or the courts. “His denial that he was the driver was entirely unbelievable…the fact that he left the scene without stopping and did not cooperate with the police is another example of Mr. Machi’s disregard for the legal rules which apply to him and govern behaviour in a civil society”, Justice MacNaughton.

Ms. Howell was awarded $175,000 in general damages, $14,000 in lost income, and $1,775,000 for loss of future income. The ruling is estimated to exceed $3 million and is the largest unitive damage award in Canadian history in a car accident case. The damage award is large, and uncommon in civil court in Canada. They have left Ms. Howell with some hope her life can become normal again.

Mr. Machi only attended 3 days of the 15 day trial and never attended again after he was cross examined. He was driving under suspension at the time of the accident, and had been prohibited from driving 5 times previously. He also has three other convictions for driving while under prohibition.

In the meantime, Mr. Machi is pursuing bankruptcy in order to avoid paying the damages. Ms. Howell’s lawyer is confident that the punitive damage award will survive the bankruptcy and that she will be able to collect the money over time.

Posted under Accident Benefit News, Automobile Accident Benefits, Car Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents

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