Case Report – Privacy tort damages are distinct from assault damages

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s October 20 decision in Warman v. Grosvenor has been well-covered in blogs and by the national media.  The Court ordered the defendant to pay $50,000 in damages for assault and defamation for what the plaintiff claimed was an internet and e-mail based “campaign of terror.”

The Court did dismiss the plaintiff’s breach of privacy claim, which he based on the defendant’s act of publishing his home address (identified with the aide of an aerial map).  Significantly, the Court held that the damages for breach of privacy only flow from harm that is not subsumed by the torts of defamation (which addresses harm to reputation) and assault (which the Court said addresses the interest in freedom from fear of being physically interfered with).  In this case, the Court held that the damages claimed by the plaintiff were subsumed by the damages claimed for assault.

Warman v. Grosvenor, [2008] O.J. NO. 4462 (S.C.J.) (QL).