Court of Appeal of Quebec

Équipements Masse 1987 inc. c. Bisaillon

Pelletier, Marcotte, Rancourt

Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court allowing in part a claim for damages. Allowed in part.

The respondent was the general manager of the appellant corporation, which was directed and held in its entirety by the appellant Masse. Believing that he had been dismissed without cause, the respondent claimed various heads of damage. The trial judge determined that an 18-month notice of termination would have been reasonable. He awarded the respondent $30,000 on this head, taking into account the income he had earned from a new employer during that period. This income was equivalent to nearly double what he would have earned had he continued to work for the appellant corporation. Nevertheless, in the judge’s view, the indemnity was justified, given the manner in which the dismissal took place and all the conditions of the respondent’s new employment, which are less advantageous than the previous ones.

The judge failed to consider the essentially indemnifying nature of the amount payable for failure to provide advance notice under article 2091 of the Civil Code of Québec (S.Q. 1991, c. 64). This was an error of law. The substantial increase in the respondent’s salary largely compensated for the inconveniences to which the judge referred. The respondent’s claim in this respect is without merit. Nor can these inconveniences justify the award of an arbitrarily determined indemnity of $30,000. Moreover, only the appellant corporation should be held liable for the unpaid bonus. On the matter of the moral prejudice resulting from the circumstances related to the termination of employment, an in solidum condemnation would have been more appropriate than the solidary condemnation ordered. Finally, although the amounts awarded under the other heads appear difficult to justify, the Court declines to exercise its power to intervene, given the rigorous standard of intervention applicable.

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