Armed with a piece of wood like a baseball bat, a Tofino man who swung at a vehicle “over and over again,” smashing windows before striking the driver’s arm must pay $75,805 in damages, according to a B.C. Supreme Court ruling.
Justice Catherine Murray said defendant Ole Marvin Hansen must pay the amount — which includes $8,000 in punitive damages — to plaintiff Clayton Giesbrecht following the Jan. 22, 2018 incident near Castaways store.
Between 4:30-5 a.m., Giesbrecht was sitting in his car in the store’s parking lot when, after about 15 minutes, he was ready to leave and backed across the lot to a spot right beside Hansen’s home.
“He tried to go forward but his car would not move,” Murray wrote in her ruling. “Being a cold morning, Mr. Giesbrecht thought his car would not move because the engine was cold. He sat in that spot revving his engine in an effort to warm it up.”
According to Murray, Hansen was woken by the revving and got out of bed “not happy.” He got dressed to go outside, grabbing a piece of wood, similar to a 2×4, on his way out the door.
“Wielding the piece of wood like a baseball bat, Mr. Hansen repeatedly struck Mr. Giesbrecht’s car, shattering the front and rear windshields and denting the window frames. Mr. Hansen then struck the driver’s side window, breaking it and hitting Mr. Giesbrecht’s arm, causing injury,” reads the judgment.
As Hansen wound up to strike the driver’s side window, Giesbrecht testified that he put his left arm up, crooked at the elbow, to shield his face and head before glass flew into his car, hitting him on his neck and cutting his skin.
When Giesbrecht could drive away, he immediately went to the hospital, where emergency room records show abrasions on his left neck and elbow, according to Murray.
An ‘unprovoked, malicious’ attack
In her decision, the judge called Hansen’s behaviour “unprovoked, malicious, and uncontrolled,” saying it was “highly reprehensible” and “definitely a marked departure from the ordinary standards of decent behaviour.”
“While the assault was part of Mr. Hansen’s frenzied attack on the car, it was a foreseeable consequence of smashing the driver’s window with Mr. Giesbrecht sitting behind it,” Murray said. “Mr. Hansen’s conduct is so egregious that it must be punished.”
Although Hansen admitted to losing his temper and smashing windows and a taillight, he did not admit responsibility for his attack on Giesbrecht himself. Instead, he argued Giesbrecht’s evidence, saying it was “questionable” given his “unrealistic ideas of ideals.”
“While some of his ideas are unconventional and may not make sense to some, I did not find that he was anything but honest in his evidence,” Murray said.
“Mr. Giesbrecht has ideas that can perhaps be characterized as not mainstream. He lives a simple life. He is not driven by money but rather by his passions. For example, he testified to the allure of a surfing lifestyle, which means if there are waves, everything else takes a back seat to surfing.”
In the judgment, it’s noted that Giesbrecht has been in constant pain since his injury and can no longer do the things he enjoyed, including cycling and off-road biking. He also says he’s fearful of Hansen and experiences anxiety.
“Because of the trauma of this assault, Mr. Giesbrecht moved from Tofino, the community that he loved and felt a part of, to a town where there is no surfing, which is his passion, and where he has no sense of belonging,” Murray said.
Giesbrecht sought money for damage, including non‑pecuniary, punitive and aggravated damages, as well as loss of earning capacity, both past and future, claiming his bike repair business shuttered following the incident.
Murray added, however, that Giesbrecht wouldn’t be awarded for loss of income after he testified that his injury did “not necessarily” impact his ability to earn and provided “vague” evidence regarding his bike business.
Hansen was ordered to pay the following damages:
- Non-pecuniary damages: $60,000
- Aggravated damages: $3,000
- Punitive Damages: $8,000
- Special Damages: $355
- HCCRA: $2,197
- CVAP: $2,252