Tribunal rejects Montreal developer’s auto insurance claim after would-be assassin shot him in his car

The administrators of Quebec’s no-fault plan receive more than 20,000 requests for compensation a year, but one that arrived in 2009 stood out.

“Driving to work on Mon. Aug. 11/2008 several gunshots were aimed at me. A bullet entered the back of my head, another bullet entered my back shoulder and a third bullet hit my ribs,” it read. “I then drove into several cars before my vehicule (sic) hit a tree.”

Only the claimant’s initials, A.M., are provided in a tribunal ruling issued on the case this year, but from the date and the nature of the incident, it is clear he is Antonio (Tony) Magi, a Montreal developer with connections to the Rizzuto crime family.

Mr. Magi spent two weeks in critical condition after surviving the broad-daylight murder attempt. He had been behind the wheel of his Range Rover, stopped at a red light on a busy west-end , when someone approached the driver’s side and fired at point-blank range.

Phil Carpenter/Postmedia News/Postmedia NewsVito Rizzuto was sentenced in 2007 to 10 years in a U.S. prison for his role in three .

The would-be assassin has never been arrested, but that did not stop Mr. Magi, 53, from seeking another form of justice. On Sept. 2, 2009, he submitted a claim to the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, the provincial auto , arguing that his injuries were the result of a car accident.

When his was rejected he requested a review, and when that failed, he appealed to the Tribunal administratif du Québec. In its ruling dated last March 11, which came to light in a weekend report in La Presse, the tribunal rejected his request for . (The amount would have been determined later.)

The ruling quotes a 2009 that included a skull fracture, intra-cerebral hemorrhage, , broken ribs and major depression.

The evidence clearly demonstrates that the injuries result from a fact completely separable from the use of a motor vehicle as a means of transport

In response to a question on the claim form asking, “Were you injured in this accident?” Mr. Magi wrote: “I suffered bad headache pain at the back of my head and neck. I had a hard time breathing, my chest was closing in on me and I had pain in my neck.”

The insurance board rejected his claim in 2010, saying “all of the injuries sustained in the accident are the direct result of the bullet wounds.” The tribunal, which is the court of last resort in such matters, agreed. “In fact, the evidence clearly demonstrates that the injuries result from a fact completely separable from the use of a motor vehicle as a means of transport,” the two-member panel wrote.

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Mr. Magi’s claim might seem far-fetched, but an expert on Quebec automobile-insurance law said there are precedents for people who were shot in their cars being compensated by the insurance board.

Daniel Gardner, a professor of law at Université Laval, said the same tribunal ruled in favour of compensating a Quebecer who was shot in the 1990s while trying to escape a bandit who had accosted him in his car in Florida. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1995 in favour of a Vancouver man who had sought benefits under British Columbia’s no-fault insurance regime for gunshot injuries sustained while trying to escape a carjacking.

But in those cases, Mr. Gardner said, the victims were seen as heroic innocents.

THE GAZETTE/Phil CarpenterTHE GAZETTE/Phil CarpenterBrothers Nick, left, and Leonardo Rizzuto, sons of Vito Rizzuto, leave a courtroom at the Palais de Justice in Montreal, Monday Aug. 13, 2007 .

Mr. Magi is a former business partner of Nick Rizzuto, Jr., the son of Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto. The younger Rizzuto was shot dead outside Mr. Magi’s offices in 2009. In 2010, street-gang leader Ducarme Joseph was arrested on a bail violation after leaving Mr. Magi’s office, the day after surviving a shootout that killed two inside an Old Montreal boutique.

Mr. Magi’s wife had a shot fired at her SUV a block from their home in 2011, and last month a masked man armed with a pistol approached two security guards stationed outside the Magi residence. The man fled without firing a shot.

Mr. Magi was arrested in 2010 on five firearms charges; he pleaded guilty to one of the charges in 2011 and received an unconditional discharge, meaning he has no criminal record.

Mr. Gardner said Quebec’s no-fault compensation regime is supposed to be blind to considerations of responsibility, but moral judgments do creep in. “Judges tend to be influenced by the manner in which the accident happened, by the victims involved,” he said. “And when the victim is not very sympathetic, it definitely doesn’t help in getting a reward.”

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