In­jury and in­sult

The Compass - - Editorial -

It was a short but colour­ful le­gal ac­tion. Last week, the Na­tional Post re­ported that New­found­land Sen. Fabian Man­ning was su­ing the House of Com­mons, the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment and the fed­eral Public Works Depart­ment af­ter a slip-and-fall in the cafe­te­ria in the House of Com­mons Cen­tre Block two years ago.

Here’s part of the Post’s story: “ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, the 53-year-old New­found­land se­na­tor suf­fered from post-con­cus­sion syn­drome and soft-tis­sue in­juries to his neck, back, left shoul­der and left hip. It claims he’s had im­paired cog­ni­tive func­tions, chronic headaches and dis­turbed sleep, and was pre­scribed ‘var­i­ous medicines and as­sis­tive de­vices.’ The suit seeks $250,000, plus dam­ages.” In­cluded in that was $50,000 for Man­ning’s wife, to cover things like “loss of com­pan­ion­ship.”

The Post story also pointed out that the in­jured Man­ning was in the Se­nate the very next day af­ter his fall, vot­ing and tabling a Se­nate re­port.

Now, if Man­ning had suf­fered such ex­ten­sive in­juries, he should have a right to re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion.

But in­stead of tak­ing his em­ployer to court, he might have tried another route, if for no other rea­son than to learn about how the other half lives.

Maybe, if he wanted to spend a few months wear­ing the shoes of an or­di­nary em­ployee, in­stead of su­ing his em­ployer, Man­ning might have tried to go through the work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion process.

Af­ter all, On­tario’s com­pen­sa­tion sys­tem, the Workplace Safety and In­sur­ance Board, ar­gues that, “the WSIB will con­sider en­ti­tle­ment in claims where a worker is in­jured when ... on a lunch, break, or other non-work pe­riod (pe­riod of leisure) by or­di­nary haz­ards of the em­ployer’s premises.”

The prob­lem is, of course, that any­thing like a $250,000 set­tle­ment would be com­pletely out of reach un­der work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion, which is the route he prob­a­bly should have taken any­way.

The fed­eral Gov­ern­ment Em­ploy­ees Com­pen­sa­tion Act does say it ap­plies to “any of­fi­cer or em­ployee of the Se­nate.”

The same leg­is­la­tion says, “Where an ac­ci­dent hap­pens to an em­ployee in the course of his em­ploy­ment un­der such cir­cum­stances as en­ti­tle him or his de­pen­dants to com­pen­sa­tion un­der this Act, nei­ther the em­ployee nor any de­pen­dant of the em­ployee has any claim against Her Majesty, or any of­fi­cer, ser­vant or agent of Her Majesty, other than for com­pen­sa­tion un­der this Act.”

That ques­tion, and Man­ning’s in­jury sit­u­a­tion, are now moot: he ar­gues that he was merely try­ing to re­cover his out-of-pocket ex­penses, and that the $250,000 law­suit was a mis­un­der­stand­ing.

The mis­un­der­stand­ing had quickly turned into a po­lit­i­cal em­bar­rass­ment, es­pe­cially af­ter a former Cana­dian sniper posted on so­cial me­dia that $250,000 was roughly what the fed­eral gov­ern­ment paid him for the loss of both his legs.

Man­ning says he has told his lawyer to with­draw the law­suit.

Still, that’s got to leave a mark.

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