Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Increases Award to Lalo Sexual Abuse Victim
Our Court of Appeal has released their reasons in the appeal of L.M.M. v. Attorney General (Nova Scotia).
The appellant/plaintiff L.M.M. was sexually abused by his probation officer, Cesar Lalo. Lalo was convicted of assaulting the boy. As a result of the sexual abuse the trial judge stated:
So I have examined these two life patterns. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lalo “event” generated a significant and lasting change in LM’s life plan.
And I have asked myself what was the hope and promise of his life before Lalo.
Could he have lived even a conventional or somewhat normal life, but for this event? Will he ever get back on the track his life might have taken but for this event? What is the long-term difference between the life he has today and one he might have had, if the probation officer he met was an honourable and decent man. LM’s life changed dramatically for the worse after he passed through that sliding glass door into Caesar Lalo’s “care” at the age of 13.
The judge awarded L.M.M. $125,000.00 for non-pecuniary damages (“pain and suffering”) and $250,000.00 for pass and future loss of income.
The judge did not order any compensation for ongoing psychological counseling.
L.M.M. appealed the income loss award as well as the judge’s failure to award future care costs. The Province launched a cross-appeal claiming that the award for general damages and income loss were inordinately high based on the fact that the trial judge had refused to accept the evidence of the plaintiff’s psychological expert.
The Court of Appeal confirmed the awards for general damage and income loss.
However, the court found that there was uncontroverted evidence that the plaintiff suffered significant psychological problems and had required, and was going to require, ongoing psychological counseling.
The Court of Appeal referred to the trial judges findings:
LM is well aware of his current addiction issues and acknowledges he may now benefit from future counselling. He has even identified psychologist S. C., as someone with whom he made progress.
The Court of Appeal felt that the trial judge’s failure to award compensation for cost of future care was an “oversight” and ordered the Province to pay the plaintiff an additional $60,000.00 for past and future psychological counseling.
The case recognizes that general damages and past and future income loss are highly fact specific.
However, the decision also recognizes that the damage caused by childhood sexual abuse can be significant and the treatment necessary to recover from the effects and financial consequences of that treatment can also be significant. I believe this is the largest award in Nova Scotia for future care that is purely for psychological counselling.