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Judge adds $500,000 to record libel award

Title: Judge adds $500,000 to record libel award
Date: Thursday, 12 March 1992
Publisher: Toronto Star (Canada)
Author: Tracy Tyler
Main source:

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The highest libel award in Canadian history just got sweeter for a top crown attorney.

In a ruling yesterday, a judge rejected the Church of Scientology's bid to slash the record $1.6 million damage award for libelling Crown Attorney Casey Hill.

Instead, Mr. Justice Douglas Carruthers ordered the church and lawyer Morris Manning, a co-defendant, to pay pre-judgment interest to Hill on a portion of the damages, calculated at 10 per cent a year since 1985, when the lawsuit was launched.

That works out to about another $500,000, based on non-compound interest calculated on $800,000 of the money awarded.

Hill, 42, now receives $2.1 million.

Carruthers, who was the trial judge, said the defendants would have been "well-advised to have accepted" Hill's settlement offer.

Back on July 9, about two months before the libel case was heard by a Toronto jury, Hill's lawyers offered to settle the dispute for $50,000, the judge noted.

But a jury ordered Manning to pay Hill $300,000 in general damages. The church was ordered to pay the prosecutor $500,000 in aggravated damages and $800,000 in punitive damages.

The pre-judgment interest was calculated on the $300,000 and $500,000 awards.

Lawyers for the church had argued that the jury's assessment was "outrageous" and totally "out of proportion to the sting of defamation."

Church officials have already announced that they will appeal the ruling.

The lawsuit launched by Hill stemmed from remarks made at a 1984 news conference on the steps of Osgoode Hall by Manning, who was representing the church in a criminal case.

Hill and another government employee were accused by the church of contempt of court, charges that were later dismissed at trial.

Carruthers said yesterday he talked to all the lawyers involved in the libel case the day after the jury's verdict to discuss concerns that the church may have been libelling Hill again in a news release issued about the award.

As a result, the judge issued an injunction permanently preventing church officials from making defamatory statements about Hill.

[Picture / Caption: Photo Morris Manning]

Copyright 1992 Toronto Star, All Rights Reserved.