A former Victoria teacher has lost a bid to have his house insurance cover the legal costs of a lawsuit.
Gilbert Joseph Dube pleaded guilty in 2007 to assaulting one of his Grade 1 students. In February, the boy’s family launched a civil suit against him and the Board of School Trustees of School District 61 for negligence and damages, claiming they had a duty of care to look after the child’s health, safety and emotional well-being during school hours.
The family’s statement of claim alleges that Dube screamed at and ridiculed the boy, and that he repeatedly lifted him in the air by his clothing, then shook and dropped him onto the floor.
It also alleges that Dube struck the boy with a pointer stick, threw him across the classroom into a wall, and denied him access to the bathroom.
The former teacher — who filed a statement of defence denying that he abused, assaulted or battered any child — asked the BCAA Insurance Corporation, which insured his home, to cover the legal costs of the lawsuit.
The insurer sought to have Dube’s claim against it dismissed, saying that allegations dealt with assault and battery, while the policy only covers unintentional bodily injury or property damages.
Dube asked the court to force BCAA to pay, arguing the claim is for damages for the unintentional acts committed by him.
In a written ruling issued Thursday, Judge Stephen Kelleher said he disagreed with Dube’s argument.
“The true nature of the claim are the allegations of assault and of battery,” he said.
Kelleher ruled the allegations in the civil lawsuit fall squarely within the insurance firm’s exclusion clause, even though Dube argued the words injury and abuse under the insurance policy were virtually interchangeable.
“I disagree. The terms ‘;injury’ and ‘;abuse’ have distinctly different meanings,” the judge concluded, saying that BCAA had no duty to defend Dube.
In a story published in the Times Colonist in September 2007, the boy’s mother said she met with Dube and the principal on Jan. 25, 2006, and asked if they knew why her son was crying every day after school, wetting his pants and vomiting.
The mother said she didn’t get an immediate answer but that Dube was suspended.
Two weeks later, the mother was told by another parent that Dube had been witnessed pushing her son.
Dube was charged with assault of the boy on April 18, 2007. He pleaded guilty and served a nine-month conditional sentence, during which he was prohibited from teaching.
Dube is not currently licensed to teach in the province.
With a file from The Canadian Press
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