A recreational hockey player in Ottawa was given the most severe penalty of all, to the tune of approximately $700,000 for a hit during a game in Ottawa in 2012.
The incident occurred when player, Drew Casterton, was circling behind the net and was body checked by Gordon MacIssac. There was conflicting evidence at trial as to what happened, so it was up to Justice Sally Gomery to weigh the credibility and come to a finding. In her decision, Justice Gomery concluded that MacIsaac deliberately skated at Casterton when he was in a vulnerable position and couldn’t see the hit coming. As a result, the hit was deliberate, reckless, and outside the rules of the game.
Violent incidents are rare in recreational hockey; however, they do happen. As Justice Gomery stated in her decision, “this is not the first lawsuit in Canada for injuries sustained during a hockey game.” Some would argue that the perpetrators of these incidents are “still living the dream,” referring to a hockey career that started promising but ended up in a Sunday night beer league. It’s a misconception, however, to think that because there’s contact (and even fighting) in hockey that a player can do whatever they want.
Although body contact is part of the game, acts of more reckless or violent behaviour are not. When someone is injured and brings a lawsuit, to succeed in a claim, “they don’t need to prove intent to injure or reckless disregard.” All that is required is that “they prove that the injury was caused by conduct that fell outside what a reasonable competitor what expect in the circumstances.”
This decision serves as a harsh reminder of the consequences faced when someone decides to play outside of the rules.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an injury following a recreational sporting event, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer. You have rights as a victim and may even be entitled to financial compensation.