A recent ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court has ordered a Surrey homeowner to pay almost $150,000 in damages to her neighbours after she cut down and destroyed dozens of cedar shrubs on their property. The court also awarded rare punitive damages of $35,000, citing the homeowner’s deliberate and wilful action without regard for her neighbour’s property rights.
The plaintiff, identified as 0973210 B.C. Ltd., filed a lawsuit against Sukhwinder Kaur Khatkar, claiming repeated trespassing over a span of six months, despite warnings from the residents and the police to stay off the property. Evidence presented in court included photos and video of Khatkar climbing the fence between the two properties with a chainsaw in hand.
In an oral ruling, Justice Amy D. Francis described the defendant’s conduct as reckless and high-handed, stating that it warranted punitive damages. The court awarded the plaintiff $60,000 for replanting 74 of the 75 destroyed shrubs, $50,000 for loss of privacy and use, and an additional $3,500 for an arborist’s services.
The total damages amounted to approximately $148,500. Furthermore, Khatkar was held responsible for the court costs of the plaintiff and was issued an injunction preventing her from ever entering her neighbour’s property again.
The trial itself was unique as it was heard as a summary trial rather than a full trial due to the straightforward nature of the trespassing case. Despite the defendant’s absence, the proceedings went ahead as scheduled since Khatkar was aware of the hearing date.
The destroyed cedar hedge, which provided a complete privacy screen for the plaintiff, will take eight to ten years to regrow to its former height. An arborist concluded that the only solution was to replant the entire hedge and replace the damaged fence.
This ruling serves as a reminder of the importance of respecting property rights and the consequences that can arise from intentional trespassing and destruction of another person’s property.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What were the damages awarded in the case?
The court awarded the plaintiff approximately $148,500 in damages, including $35,000 in punitive damages, $60,000 for replanting the destroyed shrubs, $50,000 for loss of privacy and use, and $3,500 for an arborist’s services.
2. Why were punitive damages awarded?
Punitive damages were awarded due to the defendant’s deliberate and wilful actions, which demonstrated a reckless disregard for her neighbour’s property rights.
3. How long will it take for the cedar hedge to regrow?
According to an arborist, it will take eight to ten years for the cedar hedge to grow back to its previous height.
4. Can the defendant enter the neighbour’s property again?
No, the court issued an injunction preventing the defendant from ever entering the neighbour’s property again.