$90,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome With Poor Prognosis
Adding to this site’s archived posts of BC non-pecuniary damage¬†assessments¬†for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for such an injury with a poor prognosis.
In last week’s case (Gillam v. Wiebe) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 collision. ¬†Fault was admitted by the Defendant. ¬†The Plaintiff sustained various injuries including a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome with a poor prognosis for full recovery. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $90,000 Mr. Justice Verhoeven provided the following reasons:
65]¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†In summary, I find that the plaintiff suffered the following injuries due to the accident:¬† chronic right sided neck and shoulder pain, thoracic outlet syndrome, and headaches, all as described above. She has also suffered from deterioration in her mood and disposition, interference with sleep, and significant weight gain.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Her headache condition is gradually improving but she continues to suffer from frequent headaches. Her neck and shoulder pain and her TOS symptoms also continue to cause pain and limitation of function. In general, the prognosis for the plaintiff‚Äôs conditions is poor. It is likely that she will have a degree of limitation of function and pain permanently…
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Some context is also provided by the video surveillance evidence. Video surveillance was conducted on 3 separate days in April and May, 2012. The video evidence shows the plaintiff carrying out ordinary activities such as pumping gas, entering and exiting her vehicle, driving, and also shopping and eating a picnic lunch with companions. She displays no obvious sign of discomfort or disability and generally looks comfortable and able to carry out such moderate activities.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Nevertheless, the plaintiff suffers from a limitation of function. She suffers from pain in her neck and shoulder which will likely never completely disappear. She is unlikely ever to be symptom free in relation to her TOS condition. She continues to suffer from frequent headaches for which the prognosis is negative for complete resolution. She is no longer capable of heavy work, and must avoid other activities that could aggravate her neck and shoulder injuries and her TOS. She is restricted in terms of employment, domestic and recreational activities. There has been a very significant change in the plaintiff‚Äôs overall lifestyle. There have been emotional consequences to her injuries. Her injuries have also made caring for her daughter much more difficult.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†While of course each case is unique, other court cases provide useful guidance with respect to the proper quantum of the award. Consistency with other decisions of the courts is desirable. The award must be fair to both sides.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†The plaintiff relied upon:¬†Stapley v. Hejslet,¬†2006 BCCA 34 ($175,000);¬†Hooper v. Nair, 2009 BCSC 862 ($104,500);¬†Cimino v. Kwit,¬†2009 BCSC 912 ($85,000);¬†Milliken v. Rowe, 2011 BCSC 1458 ($85,000); and¬†Durand v. Bolt, 2007 BCSC 480 ($75,000). The plaintiff submits that the range for non-pecuniary damages in this case is $95,000 to $135,000. The defence also relies upon¬†Cimino, and¬†Durand. Additionally, the defence cites¬†Driscoll v. Desharnais, 2009 BCSC 306 ($55,000),¬†Langley v. Heppner, 2011 BCSC 179 ($55,000), and¬†Verhnjak v. Papa,¬†2005 BCSC 1129 ($40,000). The defence submits thatDriscoll¬†and¬†Langley¬†most closely equate to this case, and submits that an appropriate award is $60,000.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Having reviewed these authorities, in my view an appropriate award for non-pecuniary loss in this case is $90,000.