It’s unfortunate, but family law proceedings can sometimes lead to animosity and hard feelings between those involved. Of course, it’s something most people try to avoid, and one of the biggest reasons to select an experienced family law lawyer is to help to prevent this from happening. In a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, we see an example of where this type of behaviour escalates to a point where criminal charges or civil claims come into play.
The breakdown of the relationship
The parties were involved in a romantic relationship and lived together for a time until the female defendant ended the relationship on May 2, 2015. The got back together around August 28, 2015 and resumed living together. But the reunion was short-lived and they separated again with the defendant asking the plaintiff to leave the residence. She alleged that he was verbally and physically abusive towards her, refusing to leave the apartment. She ended up fleeing herself. She eventually recruited a friend to help her keep the plaintiff from her home.
The defendant filed a report with the police, alleging that the plaintiff still had the keys to her apartment. The police did not ultimately pursue charges, with the apartment being sold.
Filing of civil claims
The plaintiff commenced the action on September 8, 2017, seeking a variety of damages, including general damages of $125,000, special damages, punitive damages of $100,000, aggregate damages of $25,000, and damages related to a lost opportunity to pursue an MBA degree.
The court described the plaintiff’s position as claiming “damages as a result of being a victim of malicious prosecution, public mischief, negligence, negligent investigation, conspiracy and false imprisonment, all as a result of the defendants’ conduct.” He also alleged the plaintiff committed tors of shock and libel.
The defendant, meanwhile, said the claim was replete with errors, containing improper and irrelevant allegations, and discloses no cause of action against her. She asked for the claims to be struck.
Determining whether there could be a claim of malicious prosecution
In order to find the defendant had pursued malicioius prosecution, the plaintiff would have to demonstrate the charges were:
(a) initiated by the defendant,
(b) terminated in favour of the plaintiff,
(c) commenced or continued without reasonable and probable cause and
(d) motivated by malice or for a primary reason other than carrying the law into effect
In this case, the defendant had initiated the charged. The charges were also dropped in the plaintff’s favour. The court ruled in the plaintiff’s allegations about the defendant’s intent to cause injury were sufficient to meet the third and fourth criteria.
While the court did not rule on whether the claims were strong enough to award damages, but they were at least strong enough to warrant a trial.
To discuss your legal needs, including separation, with a Windsor family lawyer, call 519.973.1500 or contact us online. We serve clients in Windsor, Essex County and throughout the region.