Insurer to pay $200K in punitive damages to worker

Insurance company demonstrated bad faith towards a long-term disability applicant
By Yamri Taddese
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 04/29/2013

In a warning about the use of surveillance evidence, an Ontario Superior Court judge has awarded $300,000 in punitive and aggravated damages against an insurance company found to have demonstrated bad faith towards a long-term disability applicant.

In a March 22 decision, Justice P.B. Hambly ruled in favour of a Kitchener, Ont., man caught on surveillance video doing work his insurer said was sufficient to prove he didn’t qualify for total disability benefits. The judge also slapped the insurer, Penncorp Life Insurance Co., with more than $500,000 in aggravated, punitive, and contractual damages.

The plaintiff, Avelino Fernandes, had suffered injuries to his lower back after repeated falls during his work as a bricklayer. He received monthly disability payments from Penncorp for two years following his claim. In 2006, the insurer stopped making payments to Fernandes as it required him to have a total disability in order to receive payments for more than two years.