Court of Appeal upholds $200,000 damages in sexual assault case

Accused wasn't criminally charged, but court found his behaviour was 'morally reprehensible'
By Kathryn Marshall
||Last Updated: 09/19/2018

In Zando v. Ali, the Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld a damage award of $200,000 ($175,000 in general damages and punitive damages of $25,000) against a doctor who sexually assaulted a colleague at the colleague's home.

The plaintiff was a colleague of the defendant doctor, and they both worked at a hospital. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant sexually assaulted her at her home, and then he launched a campaign of harassment against her at their workplace.

There are several significant items in this case:

  • The Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s determination that damages did not depend on a finding that the victim suffered long-term psychological trauma from one incident of sexual assault.
  • The Court of Appeal re-affirmed that damages for sexual battery or assault “fulfill a range of functions,” including the “recognition of the humiliating and degrading nature of the wrongful acts."
  • The fact that the defendant had not been punished criminally was a relevant factor in determining the awarding of punitive damages. The court’s awarding of punitive damages was, however, primarily based on the fact that the defendant’s behaviour was “morally reprehensible” and “should be punished and denounced.”

For more information see:

  •  Zando v. Ali, 2018 CarswellOnt 13022 (Ont. C.A.).

Kathryn is an associate lawyer at MacDonald & Associates, an employment law firm in Toronto specializing in Canadian employment law for both employers and employees. She can be reached at (416) 924-2236 or

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