ICBC Law

BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

Erik MagrakenThis Blog is authored by British Columbia ICBC injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken. Erik is a partner with the British Columbia personal injury law-firm MacIsaac & Company. He restricts his practice exclusively to plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on ICBC injury claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries. Please visit often for the latest developments in matters concerning BC personal injury claims and ICBC claims

Erik Magraken does not work for and is not affiliated in any way with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Please note that this blog is for information only and is not claim-specific legal advice.  Erik can only provide legal advice to clients. Please click here to arrange a free consultation.

BC Supreme Court Gives Scathing Reasons Rejecting ICBC Doctor as “Advocate”

August 17th, 2018

Adding to this site’s archived judgments of judicial criticism of expert witness ‘advocacy’, reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, holding a defence expert witness report as inadmissible due to advocacy.

In today’s case (Tathgur v. Dobson) the Plaintiff was injured in two separate vehicle collisions.  Fault was admitted for both by the Defendants.  In the course of the lawsuit the Defendants had the Plaintiff assessed by a physician who provided an opinion minimizing the Plaintiff’s injuries and their connection to the collisions.  In finding the opinion inadmissible and worth no weight Madam Justice Warren provided the following harsh reasons calling the doctor an “advocate” for the defence:

[93]         The question then is whether Dr. Grypma was in fact biased, impartial, or acting as an advocate for the defence.  If I find he was, he is clearly unwilling or unable to fulfill his duty, and his evidence is inadmissible as not meeting the threshold requirement of “qualified expert”.

[94]         Dr. Grypma included the certification required by Rule 11-2(2) in each of his reports, but that is not the end of the matter: see White at para. 48.  The concern is that notwithstanding the inclusion of this certification in his reports, Dr. Grypma assumed the role of advocate for the defence.  For the following reasons, I have determined that Dr. Grypma was acting as an advocate for the defence and, as a result, was not able and willing to provide fair, objective and non-partisan evidence.

[95]         As noted, Dr. Grypma’s opinions rested on five primary footings.  The second and third footings concerning Dr. Grypma’s rear-end accident theories are themselves opinions for which no foundation was expressed in the reports.  The failure to expressly note the foundation for those opinions would not, on its own, be sufficient to exclude the reports at the initial stage on grounds of bias or advocacy.  However, it became apparent that Dr. Grypma is not actually aware of an adequate foundation for these views.  When asked, in cross-examination, to explain the foundation for the opinion that a rear-end accident rarely causes injury to the lower back, Dr. Grypma testified that he had attended courses with others who agreed that an injury to the lower back is rare in a rear-end accident.  He did not say when he attended these courses.  He did not identify the entities or institutions that offered the courses or even their subject matters.  He did not identify who these others were who agreed with him.  He also said that he relied on the conclusions of two professors.  He did not say when those conclusions had been relayed to him or in what form, and he was able to name only one of these professors, having forgotten the name of the other.  He acknowledged not having referred to any scientific publication supportive of this opinion.

[96]         In the circumstances, it is not possible to evaluate the soundness Dr. Grypma’s rear-end accident theories or even determine whether they fall within the scope of his expertise.  More fundamentally, however, Dr. Grypma relied so heavily on opinions for which he had no proper foundation strongly suggests that he had taken up the role of advocate for the defence.  Any doubt about that was removed by Dr. Grypma’s response to being provided with a more complete set of Mr. Tathgur’s clinical records, which undermined another of the foundational footings for Dr. Grypma’s opinion.

[97]         It is not clear to me why Dr. Grypma did not have all of Mr. Tathgur’s medical records, including Dr. Manga’s clinical records and the 2009 MRI, before he wrote his first report in 2011.  It is apparent from his May 31, 2011 summary of the history provided by Mr. Tathgur that Dr. Grypma was aware that Mr. Tathgur had been treated by his family doctor, and that x-rays and an MRI had been performed.  In other words, he knew that relevant records existed.  While he is not required to conduct an investigation (Edmondson at para. 77) it would have been more helpful had he obtained access to these before offering an opinion, particularly before challenging the credibility of Mr. Tathgur’s complaints.

[98]         Nevertheless, irrespective of what Mr. Tathgur told Dr. Grypma about the initial onset of pain following the first accident, it is beyond dispute that Mr. Tathgur did report pain to Dr. Manga the day after the accident and, by the time Dr. Grypma wrote his August 21, 2015 report, he must have been aware of this.  Dr. Manga’s handwritten clinical records are not easy to read but the words “pain neck, low back” are legible in the clinical record for May 27, 2008, and there is also a hand-drawn sketch of Mr. Tathgur’s back with diagonal lines on it at the left side of the neck and the left low back, which is obviously intended to record the specific locations of reported symptoms.  In his August 21, 2015 report, Dr. Grypma complained that Dr. Manga’s records were not legible and he said he had to “go on Mr. Tathgur’s memory as [he found] the family physician’s records were not helpful”, yet he went on to specifically note that the family physician’s records indicated normal range of motion on May 27, 2008, the day after the first accident and the same day that the words “pain neck, low back” and the sketch appear.  He also referred to notations in the clinical records for September 5, 2009 and December 18, 2011 that support his theory, but made no mention of other references that did not support his theory, such as the references to spasm.

[99]         Again, Dr. Manga’s records are not easy to read.  It would have been understandable if Dr. Grypma had refused to comment on the clinical records at all unless they were transcribed.  However, he clearly could read some of the entries and he relied on those that were consistent with his previously stated views.  He cannot overcome the inescapable conclusion that he cherry-picked entries, ignoring those that undermined his opinion.

[100]     Similarly, in his December 3, 2015 report, he noted that the history given to Dr. Hershler concerning symptoms the day after the first accident was materially different from that which he said Mr. Tathgur gave him such that clarification was required, but then he went on to reiterate the same opinion (that significant injury from the first accident was unlikely) based largely on the fact that Mr. Tathgur experienced little or no pain after that accident.  Again, by this time he also had Dr. Manga’s clinical records, which clearly indicated complaints of pain on the day after the first accident.

[101]     For the foregoing reasons, I find that Dr. Grypma lost sight of his duty to the court and instead became an advocate for the defence.  His evidence is inadmissible as a result.  Even if I was not prepared to exclude the evidence, for the same reasons I would give it no weight.  Further and in any event, as discussed below, I accept Mr. Tathgur’s evidence that he did have significant pain the day after the first accident.  Leaving aside concerns of bias, partiality and lack of independence, this finding is incompatible with a key footing for Dr. Grypma’s core opinion and, for that reason alone, I would give his opinion no weight.


Plaintiff Must “Live With The Consequences” For Failing to Beat Formal Settlement Offer at Trial

August 17th, 2018

Failing to beat a defence formal settlement offer at trial can bring serious financial consequences.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating exactly this.

In today’s case (Gill v. McChesney) the Plaintiff was injured in a vehicle collision and sued for damages.  Prior to trial the Defendant made two formal settlement offers, the second of which was $208,750.  The Plaintiff rejected this and proceeded to trial where she sought “damages in excess of $1 million“.  The trial result was not nearly so favourable with damages being assessed at $87,250.

The Defendant sought to strip the Plaintiff of all of her costs post their formal settlement offer.  This would result in a swing in the tens of thousands of dollars.  The Court granted this request noting that while it may substantially diminish the Plaintiff’s recoverable damages she must “live with the consequences” of running the trial.  In reaching this decision Mr. Justice Abrioux provided the following reasons:

[54]          When I apply the legal framework to which I have referred and consider all the relevant factors, the real issue in my view is whether the plaintiff should pay the defendants’ costs after August 18, 2015, or whether the parties should bear their respective costs from that date onwards.

[55]         While not entirely analogous, this case does have certain similarities to those in Dennis, where the finder of fact concluded the plaintiff was untruthful and/or misled experts, as opposed to the situation where the plaintiff cannot be expected to know in advance how the court might assess his/her credibility in the witness box.

[56]         Here, the plaintiff did not accept a reasonable offer and the award at trial was significantly less than either the First or the Second Offers.

[57]         As was stated in Luckett v. Chahal, 2017 BCSC 1983 at para. 47:

[47]           But what happened here is that the plaintiff, well aware of the significant credibility issues at stake, chose to gamble or “take his chances” by going to trial and lost. He should live with the consequences which Rule 9-1(4) seeks to avoid: Wafler v. Trinh, 2014 BCCA 95 at para. 81.

[58]         In my view, that is what occurred in this case.

[59]         Accordingly, the plaintiff is entitled to her costs and disbursements at Scale B to August 18, 2015, and the defendants to their costs and disbursements at Scale B thereafter.


$95,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic, Partly Disabling Headaches

August 14th, 2018

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Duncan Registry, assessing damages for chronic headaches following a collision.

In today’s case (Thomson v. Thiessen) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2012 collision.  The crash resulted in chronic neck pain and headaches which at time were severe enough to cause disability.  The prognosis for full recovery was poor.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $95,000 Madam Justice MacKenzie provided the following reasons:

[50]         While I am guided by these various authorities, every case is different and must be decided on its own particular circumstances. In the present case I accept that Mr. Thomson continues to suffer from mild to moderate, and on occasion, severe headaches as a result of the motor vehicle accident on November 3, 2012. I also accept that, depending on how much he exercises and how he conducts himself when working on his computer, his headaches will affect to a certain degree his enjoyment of life in the future, and according to the medical evidence, this could be long lasting. At the same time, as confirmed by Dr. Robinson, Mr. Thomson does not suffer from throbbing migraine headaches. In fact Mr. Thomson clearly stated that when he does have a headache or feels one is about to occur, he takes two Ibuprofen and sleeps for a couple of hours, feeling better in due course. While this is certainly a significant interruption to his enjoyment of life, relief is relatively straightforward, even though not long lasting, depending on his daily activities.

[51]         Considering the totality of the circumstances, all the factors outlined in Stapley, the positions advanced by both parties and the various authorities counsel have provided, I am satisfied that a reasonable and fair award for non-pecuniary damages is $95,000.


BC Court of Appeal – Expert “Fact” Witnesses Entitled to Only $20 Fee for Trial Attendance

August 9th, 2018

Useful reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Court of Appeal confirming that when a professional is summoned to testify at trial about facts they have knowledge of (as opposed to privately retained expert witnesses to give opinion evidence) they are entitled to no more than the $20 fee that must accompany a subpoena.

In today’s case (Luis v. Marchiori) the Plaintiff was injured in two vehicle collisions and sued for damages.  At trial her family doctor testified but not as an expert opinion witness, but rather as a witness of fact.  The Plaintiff paid $2,651 to the doctor for this service and tried to recover this as a disbursement.  In refusing to allow this the BC Court of Appeal noted that when a professional testifies as to facts they are entitled to nothing more than any other fact witness.  The BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:

[5]             It is useful to begin by distinguishing between expert fact evidence and expert opinion evidence. Witnesses who become involved in litigation due to their profession—such as a treating doctor or an engineer overseeing a construction project—may be called to testify about their observations. Although the observations may be beyond the knowledge of a layperson, that testimony is not opinion evidence. Examples include a witness describing radiological images, identifying a microbe seen under a microscope, or identifying the pathological process seen on surgery or autopsy. Such evidence is sometimes described as “non-opinion expert evidence”: Robert B. White, The Art of Using Expert Evidence (Toronto: Canada Law Book, 1997), ch. 2 at 16‒21.

[6]             Justice Schultes addressed this distinction in Anderson v. Dwyer, 2009 BCSC 1872 at para. 14 in the context of the Rule requiring notice of opinion evidence:

… However, the witness’s factual narrative of the actions he took and the observations he made, including describing without interpretation, the anatomical features he observed in the x-rays does not amount to offering an opinion and does not offend the Rule. The fact that he brings special training or experience to bear in having taken those actions and made those observations is not determinative. It is whether he draws inferences or offers opinion beyond what the actual evidence itself is capable of revealing.

[Emphasis added.]…

[46]         Although I agree that some professions are more regularly called upon to testify in court than others, it is not readily apparent that a particular individual will be called upon more often. Further, these appeals have focused on the potential financial hardship to professionals such as physicians, engineers and lawyers called to testify as fact witnesses, but as Justice Park observed in Lonergan v. The Royal Exchange Assurance, (1831), 131 E.R. 280 at 283, “time to a poor man is of as much importance as to an attorney.” Indeed, the loss of a day’s work at minimum wage may be a greater relative hardship to a lay witness than the loss of a professional person’s earnings. In addition, to focus on monetary losses alone may be too narrow. Although some witnesses make a sacrifice of time and labour and thus of profits and wages, others sacrifice privacy, and experience the “disagreeable consequence of disclosure”: Wigmore on Evidence, vol. 8 at 72.

[47]         In my view, the interpretation Ms. Luis advances is of no small significance, departing as it would from the longstanding tradition that attendance at trial is “an inherent burden of citizenship”. As John Henry Wigmore put it so eloquently:

That the ordinary witness should be paid more than the nominal dollar — i.e., should be fully indemnified for sacrificing his day’s livelihood in order to perform his testimonial duty — is a plausible assertion. The argument against it, that the total cost of reimbursing highly paid citizens would be prohibitive, gives no real answer, for the state is bound to supply the necessities of justice however expensive. The best answer is that the testimonial duty, like other civic duties, is to be performed without pay, the sacrifice being an inherent burden of citizenship. Neither for military service nor for public office can the citizen claim that he shall be paid on a scale which will bear any equable proportion to the loss of his livelihood’s income. Any other principle would be worthy only of a purely mercenary community. If the sacrifice made is a real one, the dignity of the service rendered should ennoble it. The sense of civic duty done must be the consolation.

Wigmore on Evidence, vol. 8 at 136. [Emphasis added.]

[48]         If there are sound policy reasons for departing from that tradition and the present regime, it is in my view for the legislature and not the judiciary to effect that change.

[49]         In summary, I am of the view that the payment of an attendance fee to expert fact witnesses beyond the fee prescribed in Schedule 3 is not a disbursement recoverable from the opposing party. I would therefore dismiss the appeals, with thanks to all counsel for their able and thorough submissions.


Inspire Sports Victoria Opens Doors to BC’s Biggest Gymnastics Facility

August 6th, 2018

Inspire Sports Victoria Logo

Apologies for this off-topic post but I am proud to announce that a project I have been involved with has reached completion.

Inspire Sports Victoria, BC’s largest and newest gymnastics facility, has opened its doors in Greater Victoria!  We had a great open house this weekend.  Thank you to everyone who came by!

We couldn’t be prouder of our team for their efforts in hosting an amazing open house or more grateful to everyone from greater Victoria who took the time to come through our doors!

With the open house complete our final flooring will be installed and final equipment assembled in the coming days.  Thank you everyone who helped make the dream of bringing a world class recreational and competitive gymnastics facility to Victoria a reality!  See you all at the gym this week!

I want to thank Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist for this excellent article announcing our opening.

Inspire Sports Victoria caters to physical literacy for all, from entry level recreational classes to competitive training for elite athletes.

Our website can be found here and you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

 


$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Tinnitus

August 2nd, 2018

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic tinnitus caused by a motor vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Christensen v. Jand) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2013 collision.  The Defendant denied liability but was found 100% liable at trial.  THe crash caused soft tissue injuries that largely recovered and also tinnitus which had a poor prognosis for recovery.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Madam Justice Forth provided the following reasons:

51]         Accordingly, I find, on a balance of probabilities, that as a result of the accident Mr. Christensen suffered soft tissue issues, which have largely resolved, except for some mild early morning stiffness, and tinnitus, for which he will continue to suffer on a permanent basis…

[65]         Mr. Christensen has suffered a permanent injury in the form of a ringing in his ears. There is a high unrelenting squeal in his right ear. This sound was reproduced by a computer and played during the trial. The sound was highly irritating and objectionable. Mr. Christensen testified that since the accident, he has been hearing the same sound. It is with him at all times and has impacted his personality, his outlook on life, his ability to sleep, his relationship with his children, and his occupation.

[66]         There is no treatment that can stop this noise. He has had to learn to accept it but thinks about it every day. This causes him anxiety.

[67]         He finds that loud noises bother him. He has become grumpier with his children.

[68]         In order to help him sleep, he drinks. He testified that he drinks two beers and a full glass of wine every night to help him sleep. He has concerns with this consumption since alcoholism has been an issue in his immediate family.

[69]         He is not a complainer and has returned to all of his past activities, except coaching soccer. There was approximately a four to six month period when he was not running. He has returned to running approximately the same distance as before.

[70]         He immediately returned to his scheduled work and has continued working.

[71]         His sister, oldest son, and his friend Darren Babey, testified to the change in his personality in that he was grumpier and less patient after the accident. His sister was most concerned in the initial two years, when she saw signs of depression, anger, and frustration. She testified to conversations during the initial two years when she had to “talk him off the ledge a little bit when he didn’t think he could beat this” and he once told her, “he’ll commit suicide with this”. Gradually her brother started to accept the “new norm”.

[72]         It is to Mr. Christensen’s credit that he has returned to work and his activities. He has continued to care for his sons as a single father. He has been able to learn to live with the constant noise and has adjusted to life with it.

[73]         I have reviewed the various cases provided, and in assessing the particular circumstances of Mr. Christensen, I am of the view that the appropriate award for non-pecuniary damage is $85,000.


$130,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Neck and Back Injuries

August 1st, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vernon Registry, assessing damages for chronic injuries.

In today’s case (Moreira v. Crichton) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2013 collision.  The Defendant admitted fault.  The Plaintiff suffered from chronic pain with a poor prognosis.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages for her injuries at $130,000 Mr. Justice Betton provided the following reasons:

[86]         The medical evidence based on multiple assessments and records reviews from both plaintiff and defence experts collectively paints a compelling picture of a plaintiff who has and continues to deal with the adverse effects of her pain. There is no doubt expressed in any of the assessments regarding the sincerity or accuracy of the plaintiff’s experience or the impact that the MVC has had on her. The unchallenged and uncontradicted evidence of her father is also corroborative of her complaints.

[87]         This is a plaintiff who has achieved great success in her career as a result of her own hard work and initiative and who stands to advance even further in that career. I am unable to conclude that she would be inclined to jeopardize that in the hope of reward in this claim.

[88]         On the whole of the evidence I find the plaintiff to be credible…

[93]         The plaintiff’s family and social relationships have suffered as a result of the MVC. She suffers a larger burden in caring for her home now that her marriage has ended. Prior to the MVC, the plaintiff had no physical limitations and had an optimistic outlook on life. The MVC diminished these aspects of herself, and she no longer benefits from the therapeutic aspects of recreational activities and social interactions…

96]         Reviewing authorities is a necessary and useful process but has its limitations. However, considering the evidence here and those cases, I conclude that an award of $130,000 is an appropriate award under this category.


Court Finds “After the Event” Insurance a Factor To Consider When Awarding Post Trial Costs

July 9th, 2018

In what, to my knowledge, is the first BC injury case commenting on the weight a court should place on “After the Event” insurance when awarding costs post trial, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this.

In the recent case (Clubine v. Paniagua) the Plaintiff was injured in a crash and sued for damages.  Prior to trial the Defendant offered to resolve the claim for a total of $94,848.32 plus costs and disbursements.  The Plaintiff rejected this offer and proceeded to trial where he was awarded a total of $77,224.32 in damages.  The Defendant asked for costs of the trial arguing their offer should have been accepted.

The Plaintiff had ATE insurance which covers some of these adverse costs consequences.   The Court was asked to take this factor into account in stripping the plaintiff post-offer costs and making the Plaintiff pay the Defendant’s trial costs.  In finding this was an appropriate factor to consider Madam Justice Watchuk provided the following reasons:

[27]         On the costs application it was disclosed that the plaintiff purchased adverse cost insurance known as “After-the-Event” (“ATE”) insurance prior to trial.  In submissions the plaintiff explained that the ATE insurance would cover the defendant’s disbursements and costs from the date of the offer if costs were awarded against the plaintiff, and would also pay for the plaintiff’s disbursements incurred but not awarded from the date of the offer.  It will not pay for the plaintiff’s costs following the date of the offer. 

[28]         The defendant submits that the ATE insurance effectively undermines the intent of the offer to settle rule.  It allows a plaintiff to avoid the punitive costs consequences of the rule, ignore reasonable offers to settle, and with impunity take their chance at trial.  The winnowing function of the costs rules is obviated by ATE insurance; doubtful cases can proceed through litigation without risk of adverse costs consequences.  I conclude in this case that this insurance had such an effect. 

[29]         The ATE insurance in this case strongly weighs in favour of the defendant’s costs application. ..

[30]         The defendant made reasonable efforts to settle this matter.  The plaintiff’s failure to accept the reasonable offer to settle should have costs consequences.  The ATE insurance held by the plaintiff is a factor that further weighs against costs following the event in these circumstances. 

[31]         The offer was open to the eve of trial, July 22, 2016.  In these circumstances the plaintiff is entitled to only his pre-trial costs of $6,500 plus disbursements.  The defendant’s application is granted and she is entitled to the costs and disbursements of the trial. 


$185,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Severe Soft Tissue Injury With Nerve Irritation

July 5th, 2018

Adding to this site’s soft tissue injury non-pecuniary database, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with such an injury with nerve irritation and a poor prognosis.

In today’s case (Broad v. Clark) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2013 collision.  The defendant denied fault but was found fully liable at trial.  The crash caused a severe low back soft tissue injury which progressed into chronic pain with a poor prognosis.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $185,000 Madam Justice DeWitt-Van Oosten provided the following reasons:

[272]     I find that the soft tissue injury to the lower back was severe, leading to multiple and complex issues that have worsened in their cumulative impact since July 2014, including: mechanical low back pain; a painful lesion on her lower back that has grown; and, intermittent nerve irritation that causes pain to “shoot” down her legs, particularly the right leg.

[273]     I also find that the plaintiff is likely to be impacted by these conditions, in one form or another, for the entirety of her life.  The overall prognosis for improvement is poor.  The plaintiff presents as an unusual case, with multiple issues simultaneously affecting her lower back.  The lesion, in particular, appears to be a rarity.

[274]     The evidence establishes that the plaintiff’s life has been profoundly impacted by her lower back injury.  The video footage from May and June 2014, the Facebook photographs and Instagram postings do not persuade me to the contrary.  They represent moments in time.  The video footage predates the time at which the lower back injury took a turn for the worse.

[275]     The evidence, considered in its entirety, proves the existence of chronic pain and limitations to physical capacity that adversely impact the plaintiff’s emotional health; relationships with friends and family; her ability to physically engage with her children; intimacy with her partner; an incapacity to complete everyday tasks, including maintaining a household and meeting her children’s needs; and, the plaintiff’s physical struggles keep her out of the external work force and unable to achieve the independence and self-sufficiency goals that she set for herself.  She now spends a large portion of her life in pain and on the “sidelines”, unable to avail herself of opportunity for active engagement and advancement.  She is only 28.

[276]     In this sense, I agree with the plaintiff that her situation is analogous to (although not as severe as), Turner v. Dionne…

[284]     Recognizing that no two cases are ever exactly alike, after reviewing the authorities cited by the parties and applying the factors from Stapley v. Hejslet, it is my view that non-pecuniary damages within the context of the plaintiff’s individual circumstances are appropriately set at $185,000.


Defendant Not Justified in Punching Mouthy and “Belligerent” Plaintiff in the Face

June 29th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Smithers Registry, demonstrating that punching someone in the face is rarely the legally acceptable solution to a problem.

In the recent case (Azak v. Chisholm) the Defendant was a contractor building a retaining wall on property neighbouring the Plaintiff’s.  A verbal confrontation between the Plaintiff and Defendant occurred with the court finding “the plaintiff confronted Chisholm about the Project in a belligerent manner that Chisholm did not like” and specifically with the Plaintiff calling the Defendant “a ‘f-ing asshole” and a “white piece of shit”.

The Defendant gave evidence as follows surrounding the altercation:

Chisholm told the plaintiff that “we are going to go to work and what are you going to do about it?”  The plaintiff responded by saying: “you’re going to find out right now” and that Chisholm was a “white piece of shit”.  Chisholm testified that he perceived this as a threat and he did not want to find out what the plaintiff had in mind.  Chisholm said “I’ve had enough”, jumped down from the retaining wall and hit the plaintiff in the face.

The punch resulted in a fractured cheek and nose that requires surgical correction.

The Plaintiff successfully sued for damages. In rejecting the Defendant’s claim of self defense and noting the burden on a defendant to successfully raise the defense Mr. Justice Weatherill provided the following reasons:

[70]         I find that, regardless of the harassment and insults the plaintiff had levied at Chisholm and regardless of how long the plaintiff’s difficult behaviour had been ongoing, Chisholm had no right or justification to do what he did.  I find that, whatever threat Chisholm perceived when he was first confronted by the plaintiff on the morning of July 2, 2013 had eased well before the Assault took place.  I do not accept that Chisholm was either afraid for his own safety or that of his co-workers.  Chisholm could easily have either removed himself from the property or had Nyce mediate the situation, as he had done many times previously.  Instead, I find that Chisholm simply and regrettably let his anger and frustration get the better of him.  

[71]         I find that Chisholm’s reaction was unreasonable and totally disproportionate to the circumstance he was in and I reject his claim that he acted in self-defence.  No reasonable person in Chisholm’s shoes would have felt physically threatened by what the plaintiff had said.

[72]         I find that the plaintiff has demonstrated, on the balance of probabilities, that Chisholm committed the tort of battery upon him, that Chisholm failed to demonstrate he was acting in self-defence and, therefore, Chisholm is liable to the plaintiff in damages.