A woman who was the victim of an imposter during a remote court annulment hearing has been awarded $1,000 in costs.
Gina and Warren Zant were married in the Cook Islands on Nov. 27, 1999, but they separated on March 15, 2016, under an agreement that allowed Gina to utilize full dependent coverage under her ex’s pension benefits.
However, during the Nov. 24, 2021, remote court annulment hearing at the Kamloops Law Courts, Justice Dennis Hori heard from two people via phone who claimed to be Warren Thomas Zant and Gina Elizabeth Zant.
The annulment was granted, which resulted in pension benefits no longer able to be claimed by Gina. Instead, the terms of the annulment changed the pension beneficiary to Maryna du Plessis Baylis.
When she learned of the court decision via contact by the Operating Engineers’ Pension Plan, Gina took action, eventually convincing court that she had been impersonated. In November 2022, the annulment was cancelled by Justice Hori.
On Friday, Jan. 20, David Paul, counsel for the pension plan, appeared in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops to argue that costs for joint and separate Canadian Pension Plan be recovered at $10,000.
“The claimant has knowingly and deliberately committed fraudulent acts contrary to these principles of justice, thereby threatening the rectification and respect of the Canadian justice system,” Paul told court.
Warren did not attend the Jan. 20 hearing remotely from Quintana Roo, Mexico, as he allegedly felt “intimidated” by Paul. Warren argued that Hori’s decision did not uphold south of the border and that it could spark a human rights investigation. However, the court had no record of any paperwork being served to Paul for alleged intimidation.
“This kind of conduct must stop,” Paul said.
Paul argued that du Plessis Baylis should be on the hook for $75,000 in punitive damages, but Justice Hori declined Paul’s request because the hearing was scheduled for a review of costs.
“If the pension plan is wishing to seek punitive damages against any of the parties in this case, then in my view, it’s going to have to start its own separate action,” Justice Hori said. “But I’m not, at this point at least, not convinced that the pension is eligible for punitive damages.”
Going forward, the pension plan will be assessed by the registrar to determine what monies are owed as special costs.
Justice Hori did award Gina $1,000 for expenses she incurred while travelling to court and missing work to attend a hearing.