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.

Archive for the ‘BC Supreme Court Costs Cases’ Category

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.


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. 


“Marginal Difference” Between Trial Result and ICBC Settlement Offer Results in Full Costs to Plaintiff

May 2nd, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, awarding a Plaintiff full trial costs after the Plaintiff failed to beat an ICBC settlement offer by a “marginal difference“.

In today’s case (Goguen v. Maddalena) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision the Defendant accepted fault for.  The Plaintiff proceeded to trial where he was awarded total damages of $174,360.84.

Prior to trial ICBC made a formal offer to settle for $175,000.  The Defendant argued that the Plaintiff should be deprived of some of his post offer costs for failing to beat the settlement attempt.  In finding that a “marginal difference” does not warrant such an outcome Madam Justice Forth provided the following reasons:

[39]         The plaintiff submits that the Defendant’s Offer was greater than the judgment amount by only $639.16, or approximately 0.5%. He argues that this marginal difference should afford little weight. In support, the plaintiff cites Saopaseuth v. Phavongkham, 2015 BCSC 45 at para. 74, in which Bernard J. noted that an award 2% greater than an offer to settle “suggests that little weight should be given to this factor”. Furthermore, in Zhao v. Yu, 2015 BCSC 2342 at para. 11, Baker J. held that an offer that exceeded an award by $1,800 was “of little significance in arriving at a decision about costs”.

[40]         The defendant submits that the Defendant’s Offer was only with respect to the plaintiff’s tort claim and that acceptance of the offer would have allowed the plaintiff to collect Part 7 ICBC benefits. Therefore, the Defendant’s Offer exceeds the trial award by a larger margin that what appears on its face.

[41]         The plaintiff, in reply, submits that he understood that any settlement offers made by the defendant were full settlements of both the tort claim and Part 7 claims against ICBC, and that at no time did defence counsel convey that Part 7 benefits would still be available in the event that the Defendant’s Offer was accepted.

[42]         With respect to Part 7 benefits, I note the first page of the Defendant’s Offer reads in part:

The Settlement Payment:

(a)     is offered after taking into account Part 7 benefits paid or payable, pursuant to section 25 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231 (in respect of policies in force before June 1, 2007) and/or pursuant to section 83 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231 (in respect of policies in force on or after June 1, 2007);

[43]         Neither counsel have provided submissions on the implications of this settlement term or the quantum of Part 7 benefits that would have likely been available to the plaintiff. As a result, it would be speculative of me to attach significant weight to the submissions on these points.

[44]         Considering the marginal difference between the Defendant’s Offer and the ultimate award, this factor is of little significance in my determination…

[52]         Taken together, the factors pursuant to subrule 9-1(6) weigh in favor of the plaintiff. As a result, I exercise my discretion to award the plaintiff costs pursuant to R 9-1(5)(c). The plaintiff is entitled to his costs at Scale B.


Plaintiff Ordered to Pay Double Costs After Failed Parking Lot Collision Injury Claim

March 8th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, ordering a Plaintiff to pay double costs after having a personal injury lawsuit dismissed.

In the recent case (Sandhu v. Raveendran) the Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband which was involved in a parking lot collision with another vehicle with the Court noting “the contact between two vehicles was relatively superficial”The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed with Mr. Justice Brown ruling “ In this case, I find a lack of convincing evidence that this minor, slow-moving parking lot accident caused the plaintiff any compensable injury. Accordingly, the plaintiff’s claims for damages are dismissed with costs.”

Prior to trial ICBC made a formal settlement offer of $5,000.  ICBC asked for double costs.  The court agreed noting the offer ought to have been accepted.  In granting the request for double costs Mr. Justice Brown provided the following reasons:

[4]             The defendant submitted, reasonably, that considering the very minor nature of the collision, the plaintiff should have accepted the offer. Counsel for the defendants correctly pointed out no complicated issues required the plaintiff’s consideration before accepting the offer. There is no claim advanced for loss of past or future income and no future care costs claimed. Considering the very minor slow-motion contact between the vehicles, it cannot be reasonably maintained that there is any reasonable basis for such claims.

..

[7]             I find the defendants entitled to double costs for the period between the date of the offer to settle, March 1, 2017, and the commencement of trial, on March 7, 2017. Considering all the circumstances, the offer ought reasonably to have been accepted by the plaintiff.


ICBC Ordered to Pay $250 for “Misguided” Refusal to Pay $15 Fee

March 1st, 2018

When people hire a lawyer in British Columbia a $15 ‘trust administration fee’ must be paid to the Law Society of BC.  Basically a mandatory tax.

When a plaintiff hires a lawyer to resolve a dispute with ICBC this fee needs to be paid.  If the Plaintiff is a successful litigant ICBC needs to indemnify this fee as a disbursement.  They don’t like to do so.  Today, reasons for judgement were published by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, (Garayt v. Deneumoustier) with some harsh words for ICBC’s routine ‘misguided’ refusal to accept this disbursement.  In ordering the disbursement paid along with a $250 award in further costs Registrar Cameron provided the following reasons:

[6]            I agree with these submissions and would add that on numerous occasions on assessments that I have presided over I have advised counsel for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, who are retained to defend these motor vehicle related personal injury claims under our provincial automobile insurance program, that unless there is an issue as to whether or not the Plaintiff’s counsel has received a deposit into trust in respect of resolution of the litigation, there is absolutely no justification to put the trust administration fee into issue.

[7]            I have said to counsel, who come with instructions to oppose the TAF disbursement that those instructions are simply misguided and the matter ought not to be raised on an assessment unless there is an issue about the deposit being made. There is no such issue in this case.

[8]            I have jurisdiction pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 14-1(14) to award costs arising from an improper act or omission. The applicable Rule reads as follows:

Costs arising from improper act or omission

(14)   If anything is done or omitted improperly or unnecessarily, by or on behalf of a party, the court or a registrar may order

(a)  that any costs arising from or associated with any matter related to the act or omission not be allowed to the party, or

(b) that the party pay the costs incurred by any other party by reason of the act or omission.

[9]            In this case the Plaintiff was put to unnecessary cost to address this objection to the TAF and I am satisfied that it is appropriate pursuant to Rule 14-1(14)(b) to allow an additional amount for costs in recognition of the failure of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia to abide by the very clear case law not to make TAF an issue unless there is a proper basis for doing so.

[10]        Finding that there was no proper basis in this case and that the concession was only made this morning, I allow the Plaintiff an additional $250 in costs.


ICBC’s Inconsistent Pleadings Following a Collision “Reprehensible”

July 26th, 2017

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vernon Registry, finding that ICBC taking inconsistent positions in lawsuits for fault after a collision is ‘reprehensible’ and awarded special costs as a deterrent.

In the recent case (Glover v. Leakey) the Defendant was involved in a crash and injured two passengers.  One sued and fault was admitted and ultimately settlement reached.  The second sued but fault was denied.  In the midst of a jury trial the Plaintiff discovered the inconsistent pleadings and asked for a finding of liability.

Due to a misunderstanding the matter proceeded to verdict and the jury found the Defendant was not negligent.  Before the order was entered the Court considered the matter and found that the liability denial was an abuse of process, stripped the defence and granted liability in favour of the plaintiff.

This week the Court went further and ordered special costs.  In findings this appropriate Madam Justice Gropper provided the following reasons:

[42]         I found that the inconsistent pleading by the defendant was an abuse of process because the principles such as judicial economy, consistency, finality and the integrity of the administration of justice were violated. The court cannot condone such conduct.

[43]         Abuse of process can be a basis for special costs. I find that in this case, the conduct of the defendant is of the type from which the court wants to disassociate itself, referring to Fullerton.

[44]         The defendant’s arguments about the merits of its position on the application and that special costs should only be for the application only, in my view, address the circumstances too narrowly. The plaintiff only discovered the inconsistent pleadings days as the jury trial was about to proceed; it was scheduled for 12 days; the jury panel had been summonsed; witnesses were on their way to or in Vernon to give evidence; expert witnesses were also arranged to be examined by video or in person; and the defendant’s counsel had threatened to apply for a mistrial if the inconsistent pleadings were raised before the trial judge or the jury. The application was made while the jury trial was underway. 

[45]         The repercussions of the abuse of process were wide spread and of significant expense to the plaintiff, who had marshalled all of her evidence. The defendant’s narrow approach fails to recognize that his conduct was not confined to the hearing of the application only; it went well beyond that.

[46]         Referring to the principles distilled in Westsea, I am satisfied that in awarding special costs in these unique circumstances meets the test of restraint but addresses the full impact of the defendant’s conduct; there are exceptional circumstances that justify such an order; the inconsistent positions on liability as between this action and the Yeomans’ action is reprehensible in and of itself, and amounts to an abuse of process; and the award of special costs in this action cannot be characterized as a “bonus” or further compensation for the plaintiff’s success on the application. 

[47]         The plaintiff is entitled to special costs arising from my finding that the conduct of the defendant was an abuse of process, including the costs of preparation and attendance at trial, as well as special cost of this application. The assessment of special costs is postponed until the defendant has exhausted all avenues of appeal.


“It is Unusual For a Trial Judge to Award Costs to an Unsuccessful Plaintiff”

July 21st, 2017

Interesting reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal upholding a trial judges award of costs in favour of a plaintiff who had their lawsuit dismissed.

In today’s case (Tisalona v. Easton) the Plaintiff sued for damages as a result of injuries sustained in two collisions.  The Plaintiff was awarded damages for the first crash though less than what she requested and also less than the Defendant’s pre trial offer to settle.  The claim for damages from the second collision was dismissed.  Despite this the Court awarded the Plaintiff costs for both actions which were tried together.  In upholding this result the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:

[75]         In the case of the 2011 action, the only issue at trial was whether the 2011 Accident had aggravated or prolonged the effects of the 2008 Accident. The trial judge concluded that it had not, but that it had been reasonable to deal with the two accidents together.

[76]         The trial judge went on to estimate that approximately one hour of trial time was devoted to evidence concerning the second accident.  None of the expert reports had addressed the 2011 Accident to any extent.

[77]         It is unusual for a trial judge to award costs to an unsuccessful plaintiff. Here the principal considerations were the de minimus nature of the additional time required to deal with the 2011 action at trial and the trial judge’s conclusion that it had been reasonable to join this claim with the more substantial action in relation to the 2008 Accident.

[78]         In my view these considerations are not arbitrary, but rather were connected to the case before the trial judge. They fall within the broad discretion afforded to trial judges following the elimination of the qualification “for good cause” from our rules. Accordingly, I would not give effect to this ground of appeal.


BC Supreme Court – Double Costs Does Not Mean Double Disbursements

June 28th, 2017

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vernon Registry, confirming that an order for double costs does not also mean a party is entitled to double disbursements.

In today’s case (Lafond v. Mandair) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision and sued for damages.  Prior to trial the Plaintiff made a formal settlement offer of $300,000.  At trial the Plaintiff beat this quantum being awarded just over $343,000.

The Plaintiff sought double costs and disbursements.  The Defendant agreed double costs were in order but argued that double disbursements were not recoverable.  The Court agreed and in doing so provided the following succinct reasons:

[14]         Double costs may be awarded for some or all steps taken after delivery of the offer to settle. A step in the proceeding is a formal step that moves the action forward: Canadian National Railway Company v. Chiu, 2014 BCSC 75 at para. 7.

[15]         Incurring a disbursement is not a formal step as contemplated by the Civil Rules.

[16]          I, therefore, conclude that under Rule 9-1(5)(b), double disbursements are not to be awarded as part of double costs. Thus, a successful offer to settle can be rewarded with an entitlement to double costs for tariff items, together with actual and reasonable disbursements.


Court Denies Defendant Costs to Prevent “Pyrrhic Victory” for Plaintiff

April 11th, 2017

Reasons for judgement were released today demonstrating the Court’s discretion for costs following trial where formal settlement offers were exchanged.

In today’s case (Bains v. Antle) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision and sued for damages.  Prior to trial the Defendant presented a formal settlement offer of $185,000.  The Court noted that “some of the plaintiff’s initial negotiating positions were clearly inflated” but ultimately it was reasonable for the Plaintiff to refuse the Defendant’s offer and proceed to trial in the face of medical evidence supporting her alleged claim of chronic pain and related disability.

The decision proved costly with a jury awarding the Plaintiff damages of $37,800.  The Defendant asked to be awarded post offer costs and to strip the Plaintiff of her post offer costs.  The Court refused noting the Plaintiff is of modest means and having her pay Defendant costs would reduce the verdict to a Pyrric victory.  In awarding the Plaintiff costs Madam Justice Power provided the following reasons:

[36]         It is my view that all of the financial evidence at trial supports the fact that the plaintiff was a person of modest means.  Having already concluded that the settlement offer was not one which ought to have reasonably been accepted, it is evident that an order requiring the plaintiff to either pay the well-funded defendants’ costs, or in the alternative denying the plaintiff her costs, from September 20, 2016 onwards, would result in a pyrrhic victory and could have the effect of discouraging plaintiffs from pursuing valid claims.

[37]         As a result, although not determinative, the relative financial circumstances of the plaintiff and the defendant insurer are a consideration that I have taken into account.

[38]         I am not persuaded that in these circumstances the court should exercise the discretion afforded to it under Rule 9-1(4) and (5).  Having considered all of the relevant factors, I find that the plaintiff is entitled to her costs at Scale B and disbursements, including the cost of this application.  The defendants’ application is dismissed.


Uninsured, Self Represented Litigant Learns that Perjury is a Poor Idea

March 21st, 2017

From the vault of how not to represent yourself in court, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, admonishing a self represented litigant for providing the Court with perjured evidence.

In today’s case (Dizon v. Losier) the Defendant rear-ended a vehicle driven by the Plaintiff.  The Defendant was uninsured at the time and represented himself in court.  As part of his defense strategy he called a witness who said he witnessed the collision and the Plaintiff stopped for no reason.  On cross examination it became clear that this witness did not see the collision and colluded to provide this friendly evidence for the Defendant.  The Court went on to find the Defendant largely at fault for the crash, ordering payment of almost $40,000 in damages, costs, and one day of ‘specical costs’ for the perjured evidence. In admonishing this evidence Madam Justice Russell provided the following comments:

[43]         Mr. Losier called a witness who provided completely concocted evidence about seeing the plaintiff’s car stop for no reason just before the accident. This witness, Mr. Dale Carmount, was asked by this Court if he had known the defendant before the accident. This was done in order to test whether there had been any complicity with respect to this convenient account of events. Mr. Carmount denied having met the plaintiff before the accident. Instead, he said he had responded to a notice posted by Mr. Losier asking for witnesses to the accident.

[44]         In cross-examination, plaintiff’s counsel referred to a Facebook page that Mr. Carmount denied existed, but which was clearly that of Mr. Carmount, and then asked him about family relationships. Mr. Carmount then revealed that, through family in Ontario, Mr. Carmount and Mr. Losier were acquainted before the accident.

[45]         In light of this evidence, I find that the two of them developed a statement for Mr. Carmount to sign that was completely untrue. Mr. Carmount had not witnessed the accident occurring as he had stated under oath.

[46]         That this evidence amounted to perjury, for which both participants could have been prosecuted, was not lost on Mr. Losier. He tendered an apology to the Court.

[47]         This turn of events significantly undermined the reliability of the defendant’s evidence.

[84]         … the plaintiff will be awarded one day of special costs for the unnecessary delay in this matter for the consideration of the perjured evidence from the defendant.