Mar 17, 2014

Summary of Coppola v Capital Pontiac Buick Cadillac Gmc Ltd

Coppola v Capital Pontiac Buick Cadillac Gmc Ltd, 2011 SKQB 318 (CanLII)
The plaintiff brought an application against the defendant for unjust dismissal. The defendant took the position that it provided the plaintiff with fair compensation upon his release from employment and specifically denied any harsh or vindictive conduct subsequent to his termination. At issue was whether the defendant paid the proper amount of pay in lieu of notice, whether the plaintiff failed to mitigate his damages, and whether the plaintiff was entitled to receive any additional amount by way of aggravated damages for loss of reputation or mental distress.HELD: 1) The Court was inclined to place the plaintiff into a category of senior or higher-ranking employee deserving a longer period of notice of dismissal despite his relatively short period of employment being just shy of 23 months. The Court ordered that the plaintiff should have received 6 months notice prior to termination. 2) Failure to mitigate was not an issue in this instance. 3) The plaintiff established grounds for an award of aggravated damages for mental distress resulting from the manner of his dismissal by the defendant. The defendant not only failed to meet its obligations of good faith and fair dealing with the plaintiff but acted in a manner that was harsh and vindictive ostensibly because the plaintiff claimed to be wrongfully dismissed which was a claim well-founded in law. The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the defendant's false accusation of dishonest and/or fraudulent conduct which were clearly foreseeable and are compensable. A reasonable award for aggravated damages in this instance was $20,000. 4) The Court declined to award punitive damages. 5) The plaintiff was entitled to his costs of this action to be taxed with the exception that no costs were awarded relating to one expert witness. 6) Interest was ordered payable on that portion of the judgment which represented pay in lieu of notice in accordance with s. 6(2) of The Pre-judgment Interest Act calculated at three month intervals commencing June 2002 excepting that portion paid to him as severance in July 2002). Interest shall be payable in accordance with s. 6(1) of the Act on that portion of the judgment which represents aggravated damages from January 1, 2003. 7) Counsel were requested to make appropriate inquiries to determine if any amount of the award relating to pay in lieu of notice was repayable to the Receiver General and who would remit any amount payable for Employment Insurance and Income Tax matters. 8) The plaintiff did not prove loss of benefits at trial except for the $300 per month vehicle allowance. The value of the vehicle benefit for 5.5 months was $1,650.