Reasons in the appeal of the case of Hussack v. Chilliwack School District No. 33, 2011 BCCA 258 were published on Tuesday. On April 17, 1998, Devon Hussack, who was then 13 years old, was playing field hockey in his physical education class when he was hit in the face with a field hockey stick while attempting to check a player from behind. He suffered a concussion that developed into a mental disorder causing disabilities.
The trial judge found that before the accident Devon’s teachers were unanimous that he was a pleasant, bright boy with no major problems other than chronic absenteeism from school. At the time of trial, the trial judge found Devon spent most of his time in his room either watching television or on his computer. His father would make his meals for him. He had no set schedule for sleeping or waking and difficulty getting around. His father would look after most of his needs. Devon told the Court, “my life is a living hell”. The trial judge awarded damages in the amount of $1,365,000 after finding that Devon’s PE teacher had breached his duty of care by permitting Devon to play field hockey without first ensuring that Devon had attained the necessary skills to do so safely.
After reviewing the reasons of the trial judge, a unanimous Court of Appeal reduced the award by a total of $265,000. At the heart of the review was the trial judge’s finding that there was a 25% chance that Devon would not finish high school.
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