OCA upholds $25,000 punitive damages award in commercial case

Alf Kwinter says it’s unusual to see damages awarded in commercial cases.

By Julius Melnitzer | October 22,2022

In a judgment that augurs well for the award of punitive damages in commercial cases, the Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld a $25,000 award in a case involving a landlord’s illegal conversion of abandoned chattels subject to the rights of a chattel mortgagee.

“It’s very unusual to see punitives awarded in commercial cases,” says Alf Kwinter, founding partner of Singer Kwinter in Toronto, the only Canadian firm to have obtained four punitive damages awards against insurers.

Particularly telling here is that the OCA upheld the punitive damages although the trial judge had awarded the mortgagee $215,000, the appraised market value of the goods, as compensatory damages for the conversion. The $215,000 was well beyond the amount owing under the chattel mortgage, some $120,000.

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