Would you buy previously contaminated property? The average citizen, given the choice between property with no history of contamination and one with prior environmental problems (even if they have been remediated), will instinctively choose the former over the latter. This is the phenomenon known as stigma. The recent case, Tridan Developments Ltd. v. Shell Canada Products Ltd. marks the first time that Canadian courts have squarely addressed the issue of stigma with the trial judge awarding damages for the diminution in property value over and above the costs of remediation for a contaminated property on the basis of stigma. The concept of stigma introduces a unique twist to the determination of damages because it is the product of market forces; it involves the subjective feelings of neither the plaintiff nor the defendant but is predicated on the perceptions of potential third party purchasers and contingent on the sale of "stigmatized" property.
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Jodie Hierlmeier, "The Enigma of Stigma: A New Environmental Contamination Challenge Facing Canada's Judiciary" (2002) 11 Dal J Leg Stud 179.