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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

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Posts Tagged ‘Madam Justice MacNaughton’

Plaintiff Who Failed to “Re-Serve” Opposing Party’s Expert Report Cannot Rely On It

May 30th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding that a party cannot rely on an opposing party’s expert evidence if they fail to ‘re-serve’ the report in the timelines set out in the BC Supreme Court Rules.

In today’s case (Karpowicz v. Glessing) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision and sued for damages.  The Defendant retained and served an expert report.  The Defendant eventually elected not to rely on the report and at trial the Plaintiff tried to use the report in support of his case.  The Court noted that the Plaintiff could not do so as he failed to serve the report as his own pursuant to the BC Supreme Court Rules.  In reaching this decision Madam Justice MacNaughton provided the following reasons:

[40]         On receipt of Ms. Beattie’s report, the plaintiff did not follow the usual practice of immediately re‑serving Ms. Beattie’s report on the defendant as a report on which he intended to rely. The plaintiff also did not attempt to re‑serve the report as a rebuttal report on which he intended to rely on the 42‑day deadline for doing so under Rule 11‑6(4).

[41]         In the process of compiling a joint book of experts’ reports, plaintiff’s counsel was advised by defence counsel that she no longer intended to call Ms. Beattie. In seeking to rely on the report, plaintiff’s counsel argued that as the report had been served, he was entitled to demand that Ms. Beattie be available for cross-examination under Rule 11‑7(3)(b) which states, in relevant part:

(3)  A party of record may demand that an expert whose report has been served on the parties of record under Rule 11-6 attend at the trial for cross-examination as follows:

(b) if the expert was appointed by a party under Rule 11-4 … any party of record who is adverse in interest to the party who appointed that expert may, within the demand period referred to in subrule (2) (a) of this rule, demand the attendance of the expert for cross-examination.

[42]         Plaintiff’s counsel did not refer me to any cases which supported his argument.

[43]         In my view, the plaintiff’s argument is just not supported by the rule. The rules with respect to tendering experts’ reports must be read as a whole, and it is the decision of a party to tender an expert’s evidence at trial which triggers the right of the other party or parties to demand the attendance of the expert for cross-examination.

[44]         For example, Rule 11‑6(1) sets out the formal requirements for a report that is to be tendered. Rule 11‑6(3) and (4) sets out the requirements for service and focus on a report that is to be tendered at trial. Rule 11‑6(6) deals with the requirements for a supplementary report in the event the expert changes his opinion with respect to an expert report that is to be tendered at trial. The focus is on tendered evidence.

[45]         The plaintiff has the burden of proving his case. The defendant is not required to prove anything and, as a result, may elect not to call any evidence and no adverse inference can be drawn from the failure to do so.

[46]         As an alternative argument, the plaintiff submits that I should exercise my discretion to waive the 84‑day deadline for delivery of Ms. Beattie’s report to allow the plaintiff to rely on her report and call her as his witness. He submits that the defendant will not be prejudiced as a result of the late delivery of Ms. Beattie’s report, as the defendants are aware of its content and are able to prepare to cross-examine her on short notice.

[47]         Rule 11‑7(6) describes when the requirements of Rule 11‑6 may be dispensed with:

(6) At trial, the court may allow an expert to provide [expert] evidence, on terms and conditions, if any, even though one or more of the requirements of this Part have not been complied with, if

(a) facts have come to the knowledge of one or more of the parties and those facts could not, with due diligence, have been learned in time to be included in a report or supplementary report and served within the time required by this Part,

(b) the non-compliance is unlikely to cause prejudice

(i) by reason of an inability to prepare for cross-examination, or

(ii) by depriving the party against whom the evidence is tendered of a reasonable opportunity to tender evidence in response, or

(c) the interests of justice require it.

[48]         These provisions are disjunctive, so if any one of them applies, then the report in question may be admissible. For that proposition I cite Kaigo Retirement Communities Ltd. v. Sawchuk Developments Company Ltd., 2014 BCSC 1858 at para. 15, and Perry v. Vargas, 2012 BCSC 1537 at para.s 14 to 15.

[49]         In this case, although the plaintiff did not specifically rely on 11‑7(6) or frame his arguments in terms of the reconsiderations in that rule, the plaintiff’s arguments are essentially that the non‑compliance with the 84‑day deadline is unlikely to cause prejudice and the interests of justice require a waiver of the deadline in this case. I accept that the defendant would not be prejudiced in preparing to cross-examine Ms. Beattie. However, I do not consider this an appropriate case in which to exercise my discretion to waive entirely the 84‑day deadline. In my view, the discretion in Rule 11‑7(6) was intended to abridge the timelines in the rules and not to waive them entirely.

[50]         The practice of re‑serving favourable opposing parties’ experts’ reports is not uncommon in personal injury litigation. It was a procedure which was open to the plaintiff in this case. In addition, the interests of justice in this case do not require a waiver. The plaintiff has obtained and is relying on reports from Jeff Padvaiskas, an occupational therapist, and from Niall Trainor, an expert in vocational rehabilitation. Admittedly, Ms. Beattie’s report is more current, but it does not address new issues and would be duplicative. If the plaintiff was concerned about the dates of his experts’ reports, it was open to him to obtain updated reports, and for these reasons, I conclude that the plaintiff should not be permitted to rely on Ms. Beattie’s report.


Court Allows Video Surveillance Evidence Despite Defence Failing to List Document

May 30th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, allowing the introduction of video surveillance evidence despite counsel failing to disclose this evidence on their list of documents.

In today’s case (Karpowicz v. Glessing) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision and sued for damages.  The Defendant “retained a private investigator and, on June 27, 2016, filmed a short video of the plaintiff at the Vancouver International Airport accompanied by his wife and children.”  Plaintiff’s counsel was provided the video ahead of a mediation but the document was never listed on the Defendant’s formal list of documents.  The Plaintiff objected to the video’s introduction at trial but the Court ruled the evidence was admissible as there was a lack of prejudice from the failed disclosure.  In reaching this conclusion Madam Justice MacNaughton provided the following reasons:

[34]         I have concluded that the video evidence should be admitted. While I agree that the defendant had a clear obligation under Rule 7‑1(9) to list the video as a document as soon as it came into his possession, I accept defence counsel’s representation that the failure to list the video was not for a tactical advantage at trial. Counsel frankly acknowledged that it was an oversight on her part, and as soon as the plaintiff raised the issue, the video was listed in the supplementary list of documents. The late listing of the video has not caused the plaintiff prejudice.

[35]         If it had been listed in the summer of 2016, presumably it would have been done so as a privileged document. The plaintiff would have known of its existence, but not its content, as the video was not required to be disclosed until the defendant determined to rely on it at trial. On that determination, the video was disclosed to the plaintiff. The disclosure was in advance of the deadline for disclosure in Rule 12‑5(10).

[36]         The plaintiff has had time to consider the video and to prepare to address it in his evidence at trial. The defendant had the right to investigate the plaintiff’s claims and the video is relevant to the issues the plaintiff has put before the court.

[37]         As to the issue of privacy, the video was taken at Vancouver International Airport at the passenger pickup area. The plaintiff and his family had no reasonable expectation of privacy while at the airport. The video focuses on the plaintiff, and the plaintiff’s spouse and the children are incidental to that focus or in the background of the video. Counsel for the defendant has obscured the faces of the children so that they are not identifiable.

[38]         In all these circumstances, I conclude that the video ought to be admitted.


Punitive Damages Awarded Against Suspended Driver Involved in Hit and Run Collision

October 16th, 2017

In a rare case awarding punitive damages in a motor vehicle collision case reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, making such an award.

In the recent case (Howell v. Machi) the Plaintiff pedestrian was struck by a motorist who fled the scene of the collision.  The Plaintiff was jaywalking at the time and found partly at fault for the crash.  The Defendant was identified.  He had a suspended licence at the time of the collision.  In finding these circumstances warranted an award of punitive damages Madam Justice MacNaughton provided the following reasons:

[517]     Ms. Howell was unable to refer me to any case in which punitive damages had been awarded in a motor vehicle accident case involving a hit-and-run. However, in Legualt v. Tiapis, 2015 BCSC 517, Master Harper dismissed an application to strike a claim for punitive damages against a breached defendant for leaving the scene of an accident on the basis that she could not conclude that the punitive damages claim would prejudice or embarrass the fair trial of the proceeding. As that case did not proceed to trial, there is no authority for whether punitive damages are appropriate in a hit-and-run situation.

[518]     Punitive damages have been awarded against defendants who have shown reprehensible conduct in causing motor vehicle accidents. For example, punitive damages have been awarded in the following cases relied on by Ms. Howell:

·       In McIntyre v. Grigg, 83 O.R. (3d) 161 the Ontario Court of Appeal reduced a jury’s $100,000 punitive damage award to $20,000 against a defendant driver whose blood alcohol level, at the time of the accident, was two to three times over the legal limit;

·       In McDonald v. Wilson, [1991] B.C.J. No. 3137, Justice Hood awarded $5,000 in punitive damages and $1,000 in aggravated damages against a defendant driver who intentionally tried to strike the plaintiff. Similarly, in Stevenson v. Vance, [1988] N.S.J. No. 384, $2,500 in punitive damages was awarded against a defendant who intentionally ran over the plaintiff’s legs after stealing from a store in which the plaintiff worked as a security guard; and

·       In Herman v. Graves, 1998 ABQB 471, a plaintiff was awarded $3,500 in punitive damages arising from a road rage incident and, more recently, in McCaffery v. Arguello, 2017 BCSC 1460, I awarded $30,000 in punitive damages arising from a road rage incident.

[519]     I have concluded that Mr. Machi’s actions are worthy of denunciation and retribution beyond the compensatory awards I have made in favour of Ms. Howell. In particular, although I concluded that his failure to stop after striking Ms. Howell did not amount to further negligence on his part, it is relevant to the punitive damages analysis. I have also taken into account the fact Mr. Machi has repeatedly shown complete disregard for the suspensions of his driver’s licence.

[520]     In all the circumstances, I award Ms. Howell punitive damages of $100,000 against Mr. Machi.


Road Rage Assault Leads to $800,000 Civil Judgement

August 22nd, 2017

Reasons for judgement were published this week assessing damages for a plaintiff who sustained serious injuries following a road rage assault.

In this week’s case (McCaffery v. Arguello) the parties were involved in a road rage incident resulting in the Defendant existing his vehicle and  repeatedly striking the Plaintiff  “with the baseball bat, causing him serious but non-life-threatening injuries to his head, chest, left arm, hand, and wrist.

The Defendant was criminally convicted for his actions.  In the civil lawsuit damages of just over $800,000 were assessed with findings that the assault caused Complex Regional Pain Syndrome along with other partially disabling injuries.

In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $200,000 Madam Justice MacNaughton provided the following reasons:

[37]         Dr. Negraeff examined Mr. McCaffery on March 9, 2016 and diagnosed the following injuries:

a)    Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1: Left Hand (“CRPS”);

b)    persistent headache attributed to mild traumatic injury to the head;

c)     moderate to severe sleep disturbance secondary to chronic pain and headaches; and

d)    moderate to severe mood disturbance with anxiety and depression secondary to chronic pain and headaches.

[38]         Dr. Negraeff explained the CRPS is a form of chronic pain that usually develops in a limb after an injury to it. There are two types of CRPS depending on whether a distinct nerve injury is confirmed. In the first type, there is no confirmed nerve injury and in the second, such a nerve injury is confirmed. The hallmarks of CRPS are pain which is out of proportion to the injury and a combination of symptoms that can include swelling, skin colour and temperature changes, sweating, hair and nail growth changes, and disturbances to the movement or coordination of the limb…

[45]         I conclude that at the age of 28, in the few moments in which the Incident occurred, Mr. McCaffery became a different person. The effects of the assault will redefine Mr. McCaffery for the rest of his life, both physically and psychologically. He no longer sees himself as a “big strong guy” who could do, and did, nearly everything.

[46]         Mr. McCaffery’s personality change has also affected what had been a very positive, close, and harmonious family relationship among Mr. McCaffery, his wife, and their three children. All of Mr. McCaffery’s family witnesses testified about how his symptoms have affected his relationship with Ethan, who has been most affected by his father’s personality change and physical limitations. Ethan was old enough to have experienced and remembered his father’s much more engaged and affectionate relationship with him before the Incident. Ethan misses the activities he used to do with his father and is cautious about not hurting him.

[47]         Mr. McCaffery’s continuing pain has caused sleeplessness, and his headaches are often accompanied by dizziness…

[56]         Based on all this evidence, I conclude that Mr. Arguello’s actions have caused Mr. McCaffery to suffer debilitating and disabling injuries which have had significant life-changing effects and that, as a result, he should be compensated with a substantial award of non-pecuniary damages…

[79]         Taking all these considerations into account, I have concluded that an appropriate award for Mr. McCaffery’s pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life is $200,000.

The Court went on to note that punitive damages were warranted even though the Defendant was criminally convicted.  In assessing punitive damages at $30,000 the court provided the following reasons:

[122]     At para. 33 of Thomson v. Friedmann, 2008 BCSC 703, aff’d 2010 BCCA 277, referring to Whiten v. Pilot Insurance Co., 2002 SCC 18, Justice Gerow reviewed the factors a court should consider when determining whether to award, and the quantum of, punitive damages. In addition to the overall purpose of such damages, in relevant part, the factors she outlined included that:

a)    punitive damages should be assessed in an amount reasonably proportionate to such factors as the harm caused, the degree of the misconduct, the relative vulnerability of the plaintiff, and any advantage or profit gained by the defendant;

b)    punitive damages should take into account any other fines or penalties suffered by the defendant for the misconduct in question;

c)     punitive damages should generally only be awarded where the misconduct would otherwise be unpunished or where other penalties are or are likely to be inadequate to achieve the objectives of retribution, deterrence, and denunciation;

d)    the purpose of punitive damages is to give the defendant her or his “just desert”, deter the defendant, and others, from similar misconduct, and to mark the community’s collective condemnation about what has happened. Punitive damages are only awarded when compensatory damages are insufficient to accomplish these objectives;

e)    punitive damages are awarded in an amount that is no greater than necessary to accomplish their purposes and are generally moderated; and

f)      the court should assess whether the conduct of a defendant should be punished over and above the requirement to pay non-pecuniary, pecuniary, and aggravated damages.

[123]     In this case, Mr. Arguello was prosecuted and convicted of assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm. He was sentenced to a six-month conditional sentence, during which for three months he was subject to a curfew, and one year of probation. At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Arguello’s criminal counsel submitted to Judge Moss that the fact that Mr. Arguello was facing a civil lawsuit for damages should be a factor in favour of a conditional sentence. In his sentencing reasons, Judge Moss considered the fact of the civil lawsuit.

[124]     The compensatory damages I have awarded are significant, but they compensate Mr. McCaffery for his actual losses and damages. In the circumstances of this case, I am satisfied that an award of punitive damages is also necessary to make it clear to the public that Mr. Arguello’s conduct departed so markedly from the ordinary standards of decent behaviour as to be worthy of further punishment.

[125]     Mr. Arguello’s decision to follow Mr. McCaffery’s vehicle for five kilometres up the Upper Levels Highway, cut aggressively in front of it, slam on his brakes and cause a collision, and then to exit his vehicle with a baseball bat with which he repeatedly hit Mr. McCaffery, cannot be countenanced in civil society where hundreds of thousands of drivers use our roads and encounter driving manoeuvres which upset or anger them. Road rage incidents are increasingly common in our busy lives and on our busy roads as drivers’ jockey for position. They cannot be tolerated.

[126]     I accept that Mr. Arguello expressed regret for the injuries he caused by his behaviour, but at the same time, he asked for consideration for the legal fees he expended to defend himself criminally and the impact of the Incident on his family. As the person determined to be fully responsible for the Incident, both criminally and civilly, his submissions indicated to me that he had not entirely understood the community’s condemnation of his behaviour.

[127]     Therefore, in addition to the compensatory damages I have ordered, I award Mr. McCaffery the sum of $30,000 in punitive damages.