A B.C. Supreme Court judge sure wasn’t sitting on the fence on this one.
Justice Patrice Abrioux awarded a Surrey resident’s neighbour with $26,537.53 in damages related to a court battle between two women over a fence separating their properties in Panorama Village.
He ordered the defendant in the lawsuit, Christina Sun, to pay her neighbour Jan Heather Gibson, the plaintiff, $500 damages in trespass, $12,500 damages in nuisance, $8,537.53 in special damages for out-of-pocket expenses either incurred or to be incurred, and $5,000 in punitive damages.
The judge determined Sun, whom he found to be a “sophisticated businesswoman,” was “aggressive and confrontational” with her neighbour and that both the front fence the back fence, the latter which she had removed, “were not, in whole or it part, located on Ms. Sun’s ‘own’ property.”
The court heard Sun’s property is subject to a 24-inch “Access Easement” in favour of the Gibson property, registered in 1997.
Abrioux rendered his judgment on July 30, following a 10-day trial in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
“Punitive damages do not serve a compensatory function,” the judge noted in his reasons for judgment. “They are intended to punish and deter.”
“It is clear that much of Ms. Sun’s behaviour has been malicious and oppressive, and the evidence highlights the inappropriate and disruptive nature of Ms. Sun’s behavior,” Abrioux found.
According to the court document Gibsonowns a house at 14908-57 Avenue and Sun owns a house at 14902-57 Avenue. The properties adjoin one another in Surrey’s Panorama Village development.
The judge noted that on Feb. 26, 2016, Sun “exercised a self-help remedy” by removing a fence that had been there for several years prior to Gibson buying the property in 2010.
Both accused each other of “trespass and nuisance” and sought damages.
Sun bought her property in 2008. The court heard she owned several rental properties and this one was rented to her former husband and their son. Gibson, a retired city clerk for the City of New Westminster, bought her property in 2010. She lived there with her husband and son.
When Gibson bought her place, there was no fence in the front yard and in the back there was a privacy fence between the two properties. The court heard she and her husband had a fence erected in the front yard in 2011. Sun told the court she became aware in October 2015 that both fences were on her property and delivered a “Notice of Trespass” to Gibson, calling for the fences to be removed or she would hire a contractor to do it and Gibson would be billed. Gibson and her husband had the front yard fence removed.
Abrioux found that Sun had the back fence unlawfully removed.
“There will also be a permanent injunction permitting the plaintiff to replace and maintain the destroyed back privacy fence,” he decided. “The terms of the injunction will preclude Ms. Sun from interfering with the reconstruction or maintenance of the fence or interfering with the lawful use of the easement area.”