B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Surrey hatchet attack victim wins court case against B.C. government

Michael Levy was left quadriplegic at age 18 after being attacked with a hatchet at a Halloween dance at Tynehead Hall in 2006

A Surrey man left quadriplegic at age 18 after being attacked with a hatchet at a Halloween dance at Tynehead Hall in 2006 has won his case in court against the provincial government for breach of contract concerning his care.

Levy sued his attackers and others whose negligence, he claimed, contributed to his injuries and settled with the defendants in 2009 for $2.1 million. In 2018 the court gave Levy the green light to pursue a lawsuit against the Crime Victim Assistance Program, which has supported him since 2006.

Levy sued the CVAP for breach of the settlement agreement, claiming it refused to pay for the care to which he’s entitled to under the Crime Victim Assistance Act. After the province unsuccessfully appealed to B.C. Supreme Court to have the lawsuit stopped, before Justice Christopher Grauer, it took the matter to the court of appeal.

In this latest round in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, conducted over the telephone in November with Justice Elaine Adair presiding, the province claimed it has no liability to Levy and denied the director of the program was party to the contract Levy’s counsel argued had been breached.

Levy’s counsel argued that the defendants in the settlement will pay CVAP $312,000 for money spent on Levy’s care and that the CVAP agreed to fund his care “without seeking repayment over and above that figure that was paid for support to the date of the settlement in 2009,” the judge noted.

“The Province argues that the plaintiff has sought to justify his conduct based on legal advice he received, and therefore implicitly waived privilege. I do not agree,” Adair stated in her reasons for judgment.

Surrey teenager Enrique Quintana was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2008 for attacking Levy with a hatchet, severing his spinal cord and rendering him quadriplegic for life. Quintana was found guilty of aggravated assault for the unprovoked attack. Counting time served, he spent eight years and three months in jail. He was 17 when he chopped Levy three times with a hatchet at the dance, for no apparent reason.

READ ALSO: Surrey hatchet attack victim can pursue lawsuit, appeal court decides

Quintana, 17 at the time of the attack, faced a maximum of two years in jail had he been sentenced as a youth. But Surrey provincial court Judge Kenneth Ball instead delivered an adult sentence – and one stiffer than the five-to-six year prison term the Crown prosecutor had argued for – considering the “horrendous” nature of the assault.

After chopping him three times with the hatchet, Quintana kicked the already paralyzed Levy when he was down on the floor, much of it stained with his blood.

Quintana and two other youths attacked the young man for no good reason while he was dancing at the party. They didn’t even know Levy, who had been planning to enroll in the armed forces. Tuan Minh Nguyen and Robert Alexander Green were sentenced to 20 months house arrest and two years less a day, respectively, but after Nguyen’s sentence was appealed by the Crown the appeal court ordered him to serve 514 days in an open custody youth facility.

Levy’s case against the Director of Crime Victim Assistance Program and the provincial government was heard by B.C.’s Court of Appeal in Vancouver in 2018. In those proceedings, Justice John Savage noted that the provincial government’s argument was that Levy was “attempting to use artful pleadings as a thin pretence to establish a private wrong in order to launch a collateral attack on administrative decisions, and therefore his claim should be struck as an abuse of process.”

But Savage, stating he was “not persuaded that there was any error of law made by the judge,” dismissed the government’s appeal and found “there is at least an arguable case that Mr. Levy’s civil action is with merit.

Justices Peter Willcock and John Hunter concurred with Savage’s finding.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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