Surrey hatchet attack victim can pursue lawsuit, appeal court decides

Michael Levy was left quadriplegic after hatchet attack at Halloween dance at Tynehead Hall in 2006

A Surrey man left quadriplegic after he was attacked with a hatchet at a Halloween dance at Tynehead Hall in 2006 has been given the green light to pursue a lawsuit against the Crime Victim Assistance Program, which agreed to fund his care.

The case of Michael Levy versus the Director of Crime Victim Assistance Program and the provincial government was heard by B.C.’s Court of Appeal in Vancouver and Justice John Savage rendered his reasons for judgment Thursday.

Levy sued his attackers and others whose negligence, he claimed, contributed to his injuries. He settled with the defendants in 2009 for $2.1 million. Levy then sued the CVAP for breach of the settlement agreement, claiming it refused to pay for the care to which he’s entitled to under the Crime Victim Assistance Act. After the province unsuccessfully appealed to B.C. Supreme Court to have the lawsuit stopped, before Justice Christopher Grauer, it took the matter to the court of appeal.

“Ultimately, British Columbia argues Mr. Levy is attempting to use artful pleadings as a thin pretence to establish a private wrong in order to launch a collateral attack on administrative decisions, and therefore his claim should be struck as an abuse of process,” Savage noted. But he dismissed the government’s appeal. “In my view, there is at least an arguable case that Mr. Levy’s civil action is with merit,” the judge found. “Therefore, I am not persuaded that there was any error of law made by the judge.” Justices Peter Willcock and John Hunter concurred.

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Surrey teenager Enrique Quintana was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2008 for for attacking Levy, 18 at the time, with a hatchet, severing his spinal cord and rendering him a quadriplegic for life. Quintana was found guilty of aggravated assault.

Counting time served, Quintana would spend eight years and three months in jail. He was 17 when he chopped Levy three times with a hatchet at the dance, for no apparent reason.

Surrey provincial court judge Kenneth Ball sentenced him.

“Society will not countenance such overt violent acts,” Ball said at the time, delivering a stiffer penalty than the five-to-six year prison sentence the Crown prosecutor had asked for.

Quintana, who was 17 during the attack, was looking at a maximum of two years in jail had he been sentenced as a youth, but Judge Ball decided to deliver an adult sentence considering the “horrendous” nature of the case.

Quintana and two other youths attacked him for no good reason at the party. They didn’t even know Levy, a young man who was planning to enroll in the armed forces. Tuan Minh Nguyen and Robert Alexander Green were earlier sentenced to 20 months house arrest and two years less a day, respectively, but after Nguyen’s sentence was appealed by the Crown the appeal court ordered him to serve 514 days in an open custody youth facility.

Judge Ball noted the party had, until the attack, been a “happy occasion” before the unprovoked attack on Levy, who was dancing when he was struck. Much of the floor was stained with the young man’s blood, he noted. After chopping him three times with the hatchet, Quintana kicked the already paralyzed Levy when he was down.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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