A judge who awarded a former Surrey hotel manager $65,000 in damages after finding he’s been assaulted by the RCMP in Surrey re-opened the case to adjust the award after the Attorney General said it had not been given proper notice under the Constitutional Question Act governing Charter damages.
Justice Murray Blok, in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, awarded Michael Kwok Shuen Fong $65,000 in damages – within that amount $2,000 for Charter-related damages – for an unlawful arrest by the RCMP in Whalley on March 11, 2006.
Blok responded by setting aside the $2,000 for Charter damages. “Given the modest sum involved, all parties sensibly agree that the situation might be remedied by vacating the award of Charter damages and instead increasing the award of non-pecuniary damages by the same amount,” he noted in his June 21, 2019 reasons for judgment. “I agreed that this was an appropriate, pragmatic solution and so I made an order to that effect upon the conclusion of submissions.”
Fong alleged assault, battery, false arrest and false imprisonment and claimed he developed chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. He also argued his Charter rights had been breached and sought damages for that.
Fong had been the manager of Whalley’s Oasis Hotel. Before that, it had been called the Dell.
Blok noted in his March 1, 2019 reasons for judgment that the hotel’s “primary feature” was its large bar and police viewed the place as a “problem establishment. “It attracted a rough crowd and the police attended there frequently,” he said.
The court heard the police had asked to see a copy of the liquor licence and Fong claimed a constable called him a “small Chinese faggot,” to which he replied, “F—k you. If you want to see my licence you do not need my permission, go to Victoria and get your own copy,” and then walked to the lobby doors.
Blok said he didn’t believe that any police officer uttered the slur. “The slur, if made, would have been an outrageous thing for a police officer to say, let alone repeatedly, but of all the witnesses who were present and who testified, only Mr. Fong said this happened. In this, I do not believe him.”
Fong told the court he was then pushed from behind, hit with “a solid item of some sort,” beaten about his shoulders, upper arm and body, bear-hugged from behind and punched in his right temple.
“Mr. Fong was driven to Surrey Memorial Hospital in the ambulance,” Blok noted. “He telephoned 9-1-1 to report that he had been beaten by the officers. He wanted someone to attend the scene and take photographs. Their response was that they were too busy.”
Blok concluded the arrest was unlawful and the defendant – Her Majesty the Queen in Right of British Columbia as represented by The Minister of Justice for British Columbia – liable for the assault and battery of the plaintiff, and “for his brief unlawful imprisonment.”