A Vancouver man who was beaten with a metal baseball bat in a case of road rage has been awarded nearly $820,000 in damages — but whether or not his attacker has the money to pay is now being challenged in court.
Ryan McCaffery sued Gerardo Arguello after he was assaulted on the side of Highway 1 in North Vancouver on Jan. 1, 2011.
The men were arguing after McCaffery cut Arguello off at the foot of the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing.
A B.C. Supreme Court judgement issued Friday said the men continued driving north before Arguello cut in front of McCaffery, slamming his brakes and causing a minor collision.
The judgement said the men got out of their cars and Arguello used a metal baseball bat he had in his van to hit McCaffery on the head, cutting it open.
Arguello also beat McCaffery's chest and left arm, leaving him with a disability doctors testified he would "very likely" live with for the rest of his life.
Arguello was found guilty of assault with a weapon in September 2012. He was handed a six-month conditional sentence the following winter, which he served at home.
'Not sure there's a larger award out there'
McCaffery sued Arguello for damages in September 2011. On Friday, he was awarded $819,016.40 for pain and suffering, lost earnings and heath care recovery costs, among other things.
The judgement said McCaffery can't lift his hand or hold anything with it — "not even a coffee cup" — and had to quit his job as a tow-truck driver due to his injuries.
The father of three said he can't hold his children, because it's "agonizing" when anything touches his hand, wrist or forearm.
McCaffery's lawyer, Robert King, said he's "not sure there's a larger award out there for a road rage kind of case [in the province]."
"I think this is certainly going to stand as one of the larger judgements in a road rage case, if not the largest, for quite some time," said King, who's been practicing for three decades.
Fraudulent conveyance lawsuit
That said, it could be some time — if ever — before McCaffery sees any money.
Arguello, who represented himself during the civil trial and called no evidence in his defence, is liable for the full amount — but he's claimed in court he doesn't have any assets to pay with.
However, King is pursuing a separate civil suit alleging Arguello "transferred some or all of his personal property" to a number of people in order to claim he had no assets, anticipating "he would be found liable" to McCaffery.
The fraudulent conveyance lawsuit against Arguello and 10 others — including some family members — was filed in May.
It said Arguello and his wife, Imelda, owned 50 per cent interest in an East Vancouver home. Documents said Arguello's sister- and brother-in-law owned the other half.
The lawsuit alleges that Arguello transferred almost all of his interest in the house to other family members in May 2015. It also claims that he gave "all or some of his personal property," including money, to his wife and other family members to buy another house in Surrey that September.
Family members used Arguello's money for all or part of that purchase, according to the court documents. His name was left off the land title, which the lawsuit alleges was done to prevent creditors from claiming interest in the property.
"You connect the hypothetical dots and you see where this is going," King told CBC News on Tuesday.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. McCaffery is seeking damages for the alleged fraudulent conveyance, asking to have Arguello's property transferred to him to compensate the awarded damages.
In filed statements of defence, Arguello denies the fraudulent conveyance accusations.
His wife and the other family members named in the lawsuit have also denied wrongdoing in their own statements of defence.
In the document, Imelda said her husband gave up interest in the Vancouver property because of disagreements with the other co-owners, and that his name isn't on the Surrey land title because he didn't help pay for the home.
A John and Jane Doe, accused of participating in the some or all of the alleged fraudulent conveyances, haven't responded to the claims.
In the meantime, King said his client won't be paid damages from the original civil suit that stemmed from the beating.
"You run into a practical brick wall ... this was a criminal act and an intentional assault — of course it's concerning that there isn't a fund there that's going to collect the money [for victims]," the lawyer said.
But no matter the outcome of the suit, King said it can't undo the damage done.
"Stuff like this should be in the public's face: that this kind of behaviour has drastic consequences, not just for the victim, but the driver. Arguello will have to face paying this judgement for the rest of life," King said.
"Five minutes, five kilometres, just because one gets mad. It's inexplicable."
A family member of Arguello said he was not available for comment.