Sample Case Study on Sangha v. Home Depot of Canada Inc.

Parties

Parties to the case that was heard at the Provincial Court of British Columbia before Honourable Judge J.O. Wingham were Jagtar Singh Sangha, a 64-year old of Indo-Canadian descent who was the claimant and Home Depot of Canada Inc., the defendant. Claimant was represented by G. Morrison with A. Howell serving as the counsel for the defendant.

Summary of Facts

The claimant went to purchase light bulb and shelving brackets at one of the defendant’s store. Upon paying for his items and leaving the store, he was detained by the store’s loss prevention officer for shoplifting. He was accused of stealing a halogen light bulb by the defendant’s employee and detained for close to 45 minutes. During detention, the claimant was informed that he did not pay a second light bulb which was in his jacket pocket, claims which the claimant denied. He claimed that the claimed second light bulb was his; a burnout one he had carried to the store for testing purposes. Mr. Sangha was led by the officer, Bobby Kandola, to the back of the store and detained in a fenced area visible to others using the offices in the building. Upon release, the claimant was given a notice barring him from entering into the store or any other stores affiliated to the Home Depot.

The claimant denied any wrongdoing and followed the matter by calling the store after confirming from his receipt. However, the management of the store maintained their initial stance and involved their lawyers who demanded that he pays $500 as security expenses arising from the incidence. Mr. Sangha, through his counsel, filed for punitive and aggravated damages in the amount of $10,000 for wrongful arrest and imprisonment.

Issues and questions

During the trial, the judge was asked to determine the credibility of the testimony of the claimant and those provided by the witnesses of the defendant. The judge was also asked to determine whether the actions of the defendant amounted to wrongful arrest and hence deserving of awarding of both punitive and aggravated damages as a result of the mental anguish, humiliation and indignity suffered by the claimant.

Decision of judge and reasons

While noting that Mr. Kandola was lawfully authorized to detain anyone he found committing an offence on the property of the authorizing party, the defendant, the judge however found the events preceding Mr. Sangha as unlawful. The judge held that Mr. Kandola failed to notify law enforcement officers immediately or as soon as reasonably possible of the arrest. Mr. Kandola unlawfully detained the defendant for approximately 45 minutes without duly notifying law enforcement officers or handing him over to the authorities. Moreover, the judge held that Mr. Sangha’s perceived offence was not indictable as it was not a criminal offence and neither was the claimant pursued by law enforcement officers.

The judge also held that in case where the evidence provided by the claimant conflicted with those of the defendant, the claimant’s evidence was presumed as credible and reliable. Moreover, he held that the evidence provided by the defendant’s witnesses conflicted. However, considering the reasonable basis of the case filed by the claimant the judge awarded him a total of $4,246 in general damages, filing fee and service costs.

Opinion on judge decision

I agree with the judge’s ruling because Mr. Kandola failed to uphold the due process in undertaking his duties as a loss prevention officer. He failed to give the claimant a fair hearing and instead went ahead to detain him for extended time without notifying the authorities. The evidence provided by the defendant’s witnesses also conflicted therefore did not pass the credibility and reliability test.

 

Work Cited

Sangha v. Home Depot of Canada Inc., 2005 BCPC 300 (CanLII). Available at: http://canlii.ca/t/1l5wx