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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Supreme Court orders murderer's estate to compensate victim's family

The Supreme Court of Canada has done something new and interesting. They have ordered the estate of a Quebec man who went on a rampage, killing his wife and two young daughters, to make a cash payment to his wife's family. The damages are specifically punitive damages, which are awarded in a lawsuit to punish someone for what they've done, as opposed to the usual kind of damages which only bring the victim back into the same position as before the incident occurred. Previously, judges didn't award punitive damages against an estate, on the thinking that you can't punish someone who is already dead. But the judge in this case - speaking for a unanimous panel of judges - said that society needs a way to express its abhorrence of the crime, even if all we can come up with is awarding money. It's an interesting story, and may set a precedent that will change the face of estate litigation. Click here to read it.

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