In France Animation SA c Robinson, 2011 QCCA 1361 [Link available here]. the creator of a concept for an animated production based on the novel Robinson Crusoe successfully sued Cinar, its principal Ronald Weinberg, the estate of its deceased principal Micheline Charest, Ravensburger Film, France Animation, and Christophe Izard, the creator and executive producer of a joint Cinar-France Animation series that infringed the plaintiff’s rights.
An important aspect of the case is its treatment of the punitive damages that were awarded against Cinar, Weinberg, the Charest estate and Izard: can punitive damages be awarded solidarily (roughly equivalent to the common law’s jointly and severally)? Previous Québec authority on point goes in different directions. In Solomon c Québec (Procureur général), 2008 QCCA 1832, [Link available here], it was held that an award of punitive damages cannot be made solidairement by virtue of articles 1480 and 1526 of the Civil Code, which limit solidary awards to circumstances where damages serve the function of ‘reparation’. The court in Solomon concluded that punitives serve as punishment, deterrence and denunciation, not reparation. In another decision, Genex Communications Inc. v Association québécoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et du vidéo, 2009 QCCA 2201 [Link available here], the Court had refused to follow Solomon and awarded punitive damages against the co-authors of an intentional act on a solidary basis. Faced with a choice between Solomon and Genex, the Court of Appeal opted for Solomon: it is preferable to individualise punitive damages so as not to even out the liability of the defendants (who may be of differing means) and so as to punish each for the act he or she has committed, in an amount appropriate to the individual.
The Court also ruled that the cap on non-pecuniary damages resulting from a physical injury established by the SCC in its trilogy (Andrews, Thornton and Arnold ) applied to the psychological damages suffered by Robinson, which appears to be the first time (at least in Québec) that the cap has been imposed in a case not involving physical injury.