Costs Ordered To Be Paid To Insured Defendant; Not Insurer
When an ICBC insured Defendant is awarded costs following successfully defeating a BC Supreme Court lawsuit, do the costs get paid to the litigant or to the insurer? ¬†To date there are contradictory authorities addressing this (you can click here to read a case awarding costs to the party and here for a case awarding them to ICBC).
Adding to the uncertainty, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vernon Registry, indicating that the personal defendant gets the benefit of the costs payment.
In this week’s case (Nadeau v. Okanagan Urban Youth & Cultural Association) the Plaintiff was injured when struck by a vehicle. ¬†He sued a personal¬†defendant¬†arguing he was the driver and also ICBC arguing that they were liable in the event that the personal defendant was not the driver. ¬†The Claim against the personal driver was¬†ultimately¬†dismissed and the claim against ICBC succeeded.
The Defendant was awarded costs, however, Mr. Justice Powers found that a ICBC should be responsible for payment of the costs to the ¬†personal Defendants. ¬†In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†. I order that the plaintiff recover 85 percent of his costs from the defendant, ICBC, at Scale B. I also order that the plaintiff recover the costs he is required to pay to Mr. Usseni and James Mugambi and James Kibigi from the defendant, ICBC. I am satisfied that this is one of those cases which fall within Rule 14-1(8) of the¬†Civil Rules, where the plaintiff should recover the costs it pays to those defendants as a disbursement in its bill of costs against the defendant, ICBC.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†The central issue in this proceeding on liability was which vehicle struck the plaintiff and who was operating that vehicle. If it was not the vehicle owned by Ms. Mutanda and driven by Mr. Usseni, then it would be a vehicle operated by an unidentified driver. The only question with regard to liability of the defendant, ICBC, for the unidentified driver, was whether the accident occurred on a highway so that s. 24 of the¬†Act¬†applied. Of course, the extent of the negligence of the operator and of Mr. Nadeau were also in issue, but those were in issue in any event.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†In this case, not only was it reasonable for the plaintiff to bring its action against Mr. Usseni and Ms. Mutanda, James Kibigi and James Mugambi, as well as ICBC pursuant to s. 24 of the¬†Act,¬†it was the only course available to the plaintiff. There were real and legitimate issues of fact as well as issues of law that could not be resolved without a proper trial. The cause of action against each defendant was the same. The only issue was which defendant was liable depending on findings of fact.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†In my opinion, it would be unfair to require the plaintiff to pay the costs of Mr. Usseni, Ms. Mutanda, James Kibigi and James Mugambi, without the ability to recover those costs from the unknown driver, or in this case, ICBC, pursuant to their liability under s. 24 of the¬†Act.