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You! be the Judge
The Story

The grade 12 boys crowded around the bulletin board. The phys-ed coach had organized a non-contact floor hockey league, and today was the sign-up day.
As Fraser was signing his name, a mocking voice came from the back. “You sure hockey’s not too much of a sport for a scrawny lightweight boxer like you?”
Fraser immediately recognized the voice as that of Brad, his nemesis. While Fraser excelled on the school’s boxing team, Brad was the star quarterback on the football team.
At the first game, Brad couldn’t keep from throwing insults.
“F--- Brad,” shouted Fraser, “you’ve got a big mouth!”
“I’ll get you for that you little s---,” Brad replied.
Within seconds, the two boys were beside each other, with fists flying.
The coach quickly intervened. “Brad, Fraser, off the floor, Penalty for each,” he said, blowing the whistle.
But just as they were being separated, Brad reached out and punched Fraser in the face.
With blood streaming down his chin, Fraser was taken to the nurse.
The next morning, Brad was taking books out of his locker when he noticed Fraser down the hallway.
“I really feel bad about what happened,” he thought to himself. “I’ll go over and apologize.”
However, as Brad approached Fraser, Fraser started hitting him.
But the outcome of the fight was never in question. Brad’s 6-foot 4 and 280 lb frame was no match for Fraser. Not one to step away from a fight, Brad pounded with all his strength until Fraser collapsed onto the floor, his face a bloody mess.
At the hospital, the doctor diagnosis was bleak. “You’ve a broken nose and a broken tooth. You’ve also got a concussion and mild brain trauma. You definitely won’t be boxing anymore.”
Fraser sued Brad for injuries resulting from the assault.

In the Courtroom

“Brad ruined my life,” argued Fraser. “I was going to go to the Olympics. Now because of Brad, I have nothing. The fight left me injured and humiliated. I was so depressed as a result I lost my friends, family and girlfriend. He should pay for this!”

“It was self defence, your honour!” shouted Brad. “I approached him to apologise. He was the one who started the fight! I was just defending myself. It’s not my fault I’m just stronger than he is!”

Is Brad responsible for the damages the fight caused to Fraser? You! Be The Judge. Then look below for the court’s decision.

The Decision

“It’s partly your fault, Brad,” ruled the judge. “I believe that Brad only wanted to apologise. But Brad knew he was stronger than Fraser and should have pulled back. What he did was more than self-defence. I’ll award Fraser $492,000 because I think all his damages were a clear result of the fight. But I’ll find Brad responsible for only 50% of that!”

Today’s column is based on a case from Ontario. The characters and the scenarios are fictional. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The information in this column does not constitute legal advice. If you have a similar problem, consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction. Elissa Bernstein is a lawyer and syndicated columnist. Copyright 2016 Haika Enterprises, all rights reserved. BC26-4
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