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.

Posts Tagged ‘Master Keighley’

Medical Malpractice Claim Not Too Complex for a Jury to Understand

January 23rd, 2018

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing a defence request to have a jury struck from hearing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

In today’s case (Howe v. Hwang) the Plaintiff commenced a lawsuit alleging negligence following a series of complications relating to the surgical treatment of diverticulitis.

The parties settled on damages but the issues of liability (fault) remained open for the court to decide.  The Plaintiff elected trial by jury.  The Defendants objected arguing a medical malpractice case was too complex for a jury to understand.  Master Keighley disagreed and provided the following reasons in upholding the Plaintiff’s right to trial by jury :

[41]         My authority to grant the order sought is discretionary. In exercising this discretion, I must consider the issues holistically, in determining whether, at the conclusion of my analysis, the considerations raised by Rule 12-6(5) support the defence assertion that this case is not appropriate for a decision by a jury.

[42]         It may go without saying that the jury in this case will be required to engage in a prolonged examination of documents, that the resolution of the issues before this jury will require a scientific or local investigation and that the issues are of an intricate and complex nature. Thus my discretion is engaged.  

[43]         Amongst the factors which I have considered in determining that it is appropriate to have this case tried by a judge and jury, I have considered the following:

1.     The anticipated length of the trial.

[44]         The trial will not be a long one. It is presently anticipated by counsel that it will take perhaps ten or 11 days of the three weeks set aside. This reduction in time is primarily the result of the resolution of the claims against Dr. Crowley, and the agreement which has been reached with respect to damages. The jury will not be obliged to retain the technical knowledge they acquire for many weeks before delivering its verdict

2.     The number of experts to be called.

[45]         As I have indicated, the plaintiff will be relying on two experts and the defendant on three.

3.     The volume of expert evidence.

[46]         As is the case with most expert reports, the text is dense and replete with scientific terminology. But in objective terms the reports, as I have indicated, total 32 pages, far from a vast volume of expert reports.

4.     The nature and character of the expert evidence.

[47]         The jury will be obliged to consider conflicting opinion with respect to the conduct of the defendant. I have reviewed the medical reports. While I am untrained in medical matters I have no difficulty in following the rationale expressed by the experts or understanding the terminology used. I cannot see that a jury, properly instructed, will have difficulty in coming to a conclusion on the basis of technical issues alone. The opinions of all five experts are clearly stated and, apparently, objective. Juries are, of course, often called upon to deal with conflicting expert evidence with respect to medical issues in the context of personal injury litigation. I do not regard the terminology which appears in the pleadings or the expert reports as being mysterious or opaque. I am confident that with supplementary assistance from the experts, counsel and the presiding judge, the reports may be appropriately dealt with by a jury.

[48]         In summary, although the jury in this case will be obliged to deal with technically demanding scientific medical issues and unfamiliar terminology, as well as the conflicting evidence of experts, I am not satisfied that those considerations put this case beyond the range of functions credited to juries in our system.

[49]         As previously indicated to counsel, the application is dismissed. The issue of costs was dealt with at the conclusion of the hearing.


Lack of Doctor’s Affidavit Thwarts Independent Medical Exam Application

November 25th, 2013

While the BC Supreme Court does have the ability to compel a Plaintiff to attend a defence medical exam a proper evidentiary foundation must be established before the Court will be prepared to exercise this power.  Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dismissing an application due in part to a lack of evidence from the proposed physician.

In last week’s case (Rathgeber v. Freeman) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision and sued for damages and also sought Part 7 benefits from ICBC.  ICBC sent the Plaintiff to an independent medical exam with an orthopedic surgeon who provided a report addressing the Plaintiff’s injuries.  Some four years later the tort claim was still ongoing and the Defendant brought an application for a further exam with the same physician.  The Court dismissed this noting that the previous exam covered tort issues and even if there was a change of circumstances making a further report necessary there was nothing in the evidence justifying a further physical examination.  In dismissing the application the Court provided the following reasons:

[23]         In some respects, Dr. Kousaie’s November 9, 2009 report “resembles” a report in a tort claim. The doctor sets out his qualifications, for example, as well as facts and assumptions. He includes details of the accident, the plaintiff’s recreational history and comments on the possibility of academic impairment. He indicates that the examination involved a comprehensive physical examination. Those aspects of the report appear to be more consistent with a comprehensive report prepared to address the plaintiff’s complaints in a tort action.

[24]         On the other hand, the report is now four years old and while Dr. Kousaie makes reference to the neck injury, he appears to have focused on low back pain as the plaintiff’s major complaint at the time of his 2009 assessment. Dr. Kousaie’s review of the then available imaging and x-rays did not indicate any trauma to the spine although some minor disc bulges were noted in the lumbar area.

[25]         More recent assessments, and that of Dr. Twist in particular, suggest an increasing focus on the neck injury and indeed the CT scan referred to earlier shows a small circumferential disc bulge in the cervical spine, a condition not evident at the time of Dr. Kousaie’s first examination.

[26]         Taking a holistic view of the circumstances, Dr. Kousaie’s 2009 report is comprehensive and to some extent addresses issues more relevant to a tort claim than a Part 7 claim. The results of the CT scan and the shift in focus to the plaintiff’s neck injury, however, are issues which the defence may need to address. There is, however, nothing in the evidence before me to show why a further examination, rather than a review of the available materials by Dr. Kousaie or some other qualified specialist, is necessary to achieve reasonable equality with respect to medical evidence. While I do not wish to be taken as suggesting that the proposed examiner should, in all cases, provide an affidavit with respect to the necessity for a further examination, such an affidavit would have been of significant assistance to me in this case.

[27]         On the basis of the material before me, the application is dismissed.


Limitation Periods Not Determinative When Adding Parties to Existing Litigation

July 31st, 2012

One of the exceptions to the strict application of limitation periods relates to adding parties to existing litigation.  In these circumstances an expired limitation period is not, in and of itself, a barrier to add a party to a lawsuit in the BC Supreme Court.  This was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry.

In this week’s case (Haworth v. Haworth) the Plaintiff was injured while riding as a passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband in 2007.  The vehicle lost control in icy conditions.  She sued him for damages.  In the course of the lawsuit ICBC plead the “inevitable accident” defence and eventually added the appropriate road maintenance company as a Third Party.  The Plaintiff then sought to add this party as a  Defendant.  The Road Maintenance company objected arguing, among other matters, that the limitation period to sue them has expired.  Master Keighley found this unpersuasive and granted the Plaintiff’s application.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[39] There is, as previously confirmed, a presumption of prejudice if a proposed defendant will be deprived of a limitation defence by his addition as a party. Also, as previously indicated, the relevant period during which prejudice is to be assessed is that which follows the expiration, in this case, of the three year period following the date upon which the cause of action arose. The plaintiff will certainly suffer prejudice if her application is dismissed. She will lose a possible claim against a party or parties with potential liability. This issue, Wilson J. indicates in Walsh v. Blair, Vancouver Registry, Action No. M015646, BCSC, said as follows:

[22]      There is prejudice to the plaintiff in that if the application is not allowed, she will lose a right to claim against a party with potential liability. As noted in Takenaka v. Stanley (2000), 91 B.C.L.R. (3d) 179 (S.C. Master), that will usually outweigh the loss of a potential limitation defence to a potential defendant. Generally, the courts are reluctant to deprive a plaintiff of his or her day in court, so that the trend in the cases appears to be that it will take more than theoretical prejudice to outweigh the loss of that potential claim.

[40] The plaintiff’s potential peril becomes more significant when one considers that, should the application be dismissed, and should the present defendant succeed on the issue of unavoidable accident, she will be left without remedy although blameless with respect to the circumstances of the accident.

[41] Neither Her Majesty the Queen or Argo Thompson allege, as is often the case in such applications, that they have been prejudiced by an inability to investigate the claims against them. HMTQ has, of course, been aware of the potential claim since May 12, 2011 when the application to add the Third Parties was brought. There was no evidence of any investigation conducted by HMTQ after that date to the present. While it seems likely the government representatives would have discussed the potential claim with representatives of Argo Thompson at an early date, there is no evidence of that and I can make no such assumption. With respect to itsinvestigation, Argo Thompson says as follows (and this appears in Affidavit No. 2 of Yvonne Van Vliet, a paralegal in the employ of Argo Thompson’s counsel):

14.       Attached as Exhibit “J” to this affidavit is a true copy of the timecard signed by plough operator Chris Jones on November 12, 2007. Mr. Jones’ timecard indicates that he commenced his shift at 5:00 p.m., on November 12, 2007 and worked until 4:25 a.m., on November 13, 2007. On his timecard he recorded applying 41 cubic meters of winter abrasive (activity 310B) to the Coquihalla Highway during his shift.

15.       On May 22, 2012 I was informed by Tom Bone, General Manager for Argo, during a teleconference, that Chris Jones has not been employed with Argo since 2008, nor has Argo been in contact with him since 2008. Furthermore, Mr. Bone informed me that Argo is not aware of Chris Jones’ current address or contact information.

[42] There is no indication that Mr. Jones cannot be found, what reasonable steps have been taken to locate him, or even whether his evidence, beyond that contained in the records, is required for the defence of these claims. With respect to records, there is no evidence to suggest that any are missing or have been destroyed.

[43] In the circumstances, I find that there is no prejudice to these proposed defendants in making the order sought, whereas the potential prejudice to the plaintiff, should she be deprived of potential claims, is overwhelming. An order will go in the terms of the application. Costs will be in the cause.


Third Party Pleadings Permitted Against Plaintiff's Litigation Guardian

July 5th, 2012

When an infant sues for damages in BC they must do so through a litigation guardian.  Typically a parent acts in this role.  If an allegation arises that the litigation guardian’s negligence contributed to the child’s injuries can Third Party proceedings be brought against the litigation guardian?  The answer is yes as was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, earlier this month.

In the recent case (Alamdar-Saadati v. Lee) the Plaintiff was involved in a pedestrian/motor vehicle collision in 2009.  He was 6 years old at the time.   He was travelling alone on a transit bus.   After leaving the bus he “attempted to cross the street in front of the bus and was struck by a motor vehicle“.  The Plaintiff, through his mom acting as litigation guardian, sued the driver of the vehicle.

The driver brought an application to bring bring Third Party proceedings against the Plaintiff’s parents arguing they were negligent in allowing the Plaintiff to ride the bus alone.  The Plaintiff objected arguing the application would require the appointment of a new litigation guardian.  Master Keighley found that this was not a barrier to the claim.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[11] Ultimately, I have reached the conclusion that Ms. Alamdar’s status as litigation guardian does not impact the outcome of this case. She is, however, as a proposed Third Party, entitled to object to the issuance of the notice.

[12] The authorities indicate that a Third Party Notice should not be set aside on a motion under Rule 3-5(8) unless the applicant is able to establish beyond doubt that the pleadings disclose no cause of action. This test is identical to that applied on an application under Rule 9-5(1)(a) and, as a result, it has been held that a Third Party Notice should only be set aside if there is no serious question or issue to be determined, the question or issue raised by the Third Party Notice is not substantially the same as a question or issue in the original action or the question or issue should not properly be determined in the original action: Northmark Mechanical Systems Inc. v. King (Estate), [2009] B.C.J. No. 1812, 2009 BCSC 1237.

[13] The Courts should only exercise its discretion in striking out a Third Party Notice where the question of whether the notice is founded is perfectly clear. If the issue is in doubt the Third Party proceedings should be allowed to proceed to trial for final resolution: Wade v. Marsolais, [1949] B.C.J. No. 14.

[14] The facts pleaded in the Third Party Notice do not have to be supported by evidence and the Court, in considering an application to strike a Third Party Notice, will proceed on the assumption that all the facts pleaded in the Third Party Notice are true: McNaughton v. Baker, [1988] B.C.J. No. 515, 25 B.C.L.R. (2d) 17 (C.A.)…

[19] I am well aware that granting the order sought will disqualify the mother from continuing to act as her son’s litigation guardian. In all fairness, this is a matter which she ought to have considered at the outset. If not she, then surely her counsel should have considered that there was a possibility that a Third Party claim might be advanced against her by virtue of the circumstances of this accident.

[20] The infant plaintiff will not lose his claim but an alternate litigation guardian will have to be found.

[21] The father, I should have mentioned earlier, did not oppose the application to add him as a Third Party.

[22] In the result, an order will go granting the defendant leave to file a Third Party Notice naming Zoleikha Alamdar and Mohsen Saadati as third parties in the form attached as Schedule “A” to the application with the addition of these parties as third parties in the style of cause thereof.


Late DME Application Dismissed; Responsive Exam Limitations Discussed

January 10th, 2012

Helpful reasons for judgement were recently released by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dismissing a defence application to have a Plaintiff assessed by a neurosurgeon.  In short the Court found the application was brought too late in the claim and that there was insufficient evidence to justify a physical exam for a truly ‘responsive‘ medical report.

In the recent case (Dhaliwal v. Owens) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 collision.  The injuries included low back pain.  Surgery was anticipated but as time went on the Plaintiff experienced some symptom improvement and surgery became less likely.

In the course of the lawsuit the Defendants put the matter into fast track litigation (Rule 15).  They failed to obtain a medical report in a timely fashion.  When they finally did apply the 84 day service deadline set out in Rule 11-6(3) had come and gone.  The Defendants argued that they needed the report for responsive purposes and further that the cancellation of the Plaintiff’s anticipated surgery amounted to a change of circumstances justifying the late application.   Master Keighley rejected both of these arguments and dismissed the application.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[7]  Now, I had indicated earlier that it is likely that had this matter come to light a year ago, this application would not have been before me today.  What causes the problem is Rule 11-6(3) which requires that an expert report, in general terms, be delivered at least 84 days prior to the scheduled trial date.  The 84th day, I am told by counsel who have done the arithmetic, passed…almost a couple of weeks ago…

[14]  Now, this is not a situation, and we do sometimes see it, where the physician has either directly or indirectly provided evidence with respect to the necessity of a physical examination of a party.  There is nothing before me in the material to explain why a physical examination is required in this case other than the statements from the paralegal that I have referred to.

[15]  In the case of Wright v. Brauer, a decision of Mr. Justice Savage reported as 2010 BCSC 1282, Justice Savage considering similar circumstances said at paragraph 22

In my opinion, the bare assertion reported to a legal assistant in this case is insufficient to support an order under Rule 7-6(1) that the plaintiff attend the Examination, when the defendants are limited to providing response reports under Rule 11-6(4)”

Justice Savage dismissed the application and is reference to Rule 11-6(4) harks back to his remarks at paragraph 12 of that decision where he said:

Rule 11-6(4) was enacted to fill a lacuna in the Rules.  Under the former Rules, Rule 40A permitted parties to call expert evidence in reply without notice at trial.  In order for such evidence to be admitted, however, it had to be truly responsive to the expert evidence of a witness called by the opposing party.”

He noted that in the case before him, the defendants were, as here, limited by the Rule to what referred to as Justice Williamson in the case of Kelly v. Kelly (1995), 20 BCLR (3d) 232 “truly responsive rebuttal evidence” by virtue of the provisions of Rule 11-6.

[16]  Similarly, Mr. Justice Cullen in the case of Ludecke v. Hillman, 2010 BCSC 1538, considered an appeal from a master’s order which has allowed an examination to provide “truly responsive” evidence.  Justice Cullen upheld the master’s order determining that the necessary evidentiary foundation for the examination was found in the material before him.  In reaching that conclusion, he said:

“To reach the requisite threshold under Rule 11-6(4) the applicant must establish a basis of necessity for the examination to properly respond to the expert witness whose report is served under subrule (3) by the other party.”

[17]  The plaintiff’s injuries, it seems to me, have not really changed in this case.  She has more or less since the outset complained of low back pain, low back problems.  What has changed, if anything, in recent months is the decision of the medical practitioners treating her with regard to the advisability of surgery.  It appears that they have decided for the meantime that surgery is the less desirable option.  Notwithstanding that decision, the plaintiff continues to suffer pain to the extent that she remains, apparently, unable to work.  There has been ample time int his litigation, even before this change in the plaintiff’s circumstances, for the defence to seek and obtain evidence from a neurosurgeon or other specialist with respect to her condition.  Although the provisions of Rule 7-6 and its predecessor Rule were enacted to attempt to affect a level playing field between the parties with respect to medical evidence, I do not see that the defence will be prejudiced by being restricted to an opportunity to have Dr. Turnbull or another practitioner of their choice examine the available evidence and render an opinion at trial as to the appropriate treatment of the plaintiff’s injuries.  Overall, of course, I have been considering the issue of proportionality and in the particularly refined context of an application brought in a case governed by Rule 15-1.

[18]  The application is dismissed.

As of today this case is unreported but, as always, I’m happy to provide a copy of the reasons for judgement to anyone who contacts me and requests these.


Theft/Fire Loss Claims and ICBC "Examinations Under Oath"

May 7th, 2011

If you purchase Theft of Fire Damage coverage from ICBC and need to take advantage of this insurance can ICBC force you to provide a statement under oath before processing your claim?  The answer is yes and reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Nelson Registry, dealing with this area of the law.

In this week’s case (Cort v. ICBC) the Plaintiff had fire insurance coverage with ICBC.  On September 18, 2010 his vehicle was destroyed by fire.  He asked ICBC to pay his loss but ICBC refused to respond until he provided them with an “Examination Under Oath“.  He refused to do so and sued ICBC.  ICBC brought an application for various pre-trial relief including an order to ‘stay‘ the lawsuit until the Examination Under Oath was provided.  Master Keighley granted this order finding that the lawsuit could not move ahead until this ‘investigative’ step took place.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[28] Sections 6 and 8 of the Prescribed Conditions to the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation B.C. Reg. 156/2010 read as follows:

6(1)      If required by the insurer, the insured must, on the occurrence of loss or damage for which coverage is provided by this contract, deliver to the insurer within 90 days after the occurrence of the loss or damage a statutory declaration stating, to the best of the insured’s knowledge and belief, the place, time, cause and amount of the loss or damage, the interest of the insured and of all others in the vehicle, the encumbrances on the vehicle, all other insurance, whether valid or not, covering the vehicle and that the loss or damage did not occur through any wilful act or neglect, procurement, means or connivance of the insured.

(2)        An insured who has filed a statutory declaration must

(a)        on request of the insurer, submit to examination under oath,

(b)        produce for examination, at a reasonable time and place designated by the insurer, all documents in the insured’s possession or control relating to the loss or damage, and

(c)        permit copies of the documents to be made by the insurer.

8(1)      The insurer must pay the insurance money for which it is liable under this contract within 60 days after the proof of loss or statutory declaration has been received by it or, if an arbitration is conducted under section 177 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation, within 15 days after the award is rendered.

(2)        The insured must not bring an action to recover the amount of a claim under this contract unless the requirements of conditions 4, 5 and 6 are complied with and until the amount of the loss has been ascertained by an arbitrator under section 177, by a judgment after trial of the issue or by written agreement between the insurer and the insured.

(3)        Every action or proceeding against the insurer in respect of loss or damage for which coverage is provided under this contract must be commenced within 2 years from the occurrence of the loss or damage.

[29] Accordingly, says ICBC, since the insured may not commence an action to recover the amount of his claim until he has, inter alia, submitted to an examination under oath, at the very least he should be enjoined from proceeding with the claim…

[32] ….The purpose of an EUO, on the other hand is investigative. The insured is contractually bound to co-operate with his insurer by submitting to an examination which may assist the insurer in determining its response to the claim. The insured may not, as a matter of contract, seek to attach conditions to his attendance.

[33] In the circumstances the contract claim will be stayed until the plaintiff has complied with the requirements of the Prescribed Conditions. In the event that the parties cannot resolve the issue of compliance by agreement, they will have liberty to apply.

This case is also worth reviewing for the Court’s discussion of transfer of claims to Small Claims Court under section 15 of the Supreme Court Act and further the severance of bad faith claims from breach of contract claims pursuant to Rule 22-5(6) and 12-5(67) of the Supreme Court Rules.


Costs Awards For Settlements Below $100,000

February 16th, 2011

(Note: The case discussed below was upheld on appeal in July, 2011 by Madam Justice Ker)

As previously discussed, Rule 15 is the new BC Fast Track Litigation Rule and it is mandatory for cases for damages seeking less than $100,000 and for cases that “can be completed within 3 days“.

Rule 15-1(15) generally limits costs awards for fast track lawsuits to no more than $11,000.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing whether this limit applies to non-fast track cases that settle for less than $100,000.  In short, Master Keighley held that it can, however, when a case has been removed from the fast track the costs restriction does not apply.

In today’s case (Johnson v. Axten) the Plaintiff started the lawsuit under the former Rule 68.  The parties consented to remove the case from Rule 68 prior to trail and obtained a Court order to that effect.  The case then settled after the new Rule 15 came into force.  The settlement was for $90,000 plus costs and disbursements.  The Defendant argued that the Rule 15 cap on costs should apply.  Master Keighley disagreed finding that while it could apply, it should not in the circumstances of this case.  The Court provided the following useful reasons:

[17]         The Majewska case does, however, contain this helpful observation on the issue of “opting out” of Rule 66, at para. 34:

Moreover, it is important to recognize that parties to a R. 66 action are not compelled to remain in the fast track process. If the spectre of “special circumstances” emerges at any time during the action, whether in the form of complex issues, offers to settle, increased trial time, or any other situation, the parties may consent to removing the case from R. 66, or obtain an order to that effect under R. 66(8). Thus, if a concern arises that costs under R. 66(29) will not be adequate, this can be remedied by taking appropriate action during the proceeding.

and at para. 36:

“Here, if the plaintiff was concerned that R. 66 was no longer appropriate, the proper response was to apply for removal from the fast track litigation. If she chose not to take that step, she should have no basis for complaint that her costs are limited by R. 66(29).”

[18]         In other words, a party who opted out of Rule 66 prior to trial was not limited by Rule 66(29). It is noteworthy that Rule 68, which governed this action prior to the parties “opting out” contained no limitation on costs. Also noteworthy is that Rule 15?1 as well as the case with its predecessors, provides for opting out of the provisions for the Rule and in this case the parties did so.

[19]         Ms. Deane-Cloutier says that although Rule 15-1 does not, on its face, contemplate settlement, neither did Rule 66(29), but that did not prevent the court from holding that the subrule applied to settlement of cases governed by the Rule. That submission, with respect, ignores however the very clear statement of the Court of Appeal in Majewska: that once Rule 66 ceased to apply to an action, a party would not be limited to costs recoverable under Rule 66(29).

[20]         The plaintiff’s costs will be assessed pursuant to Schedule B of the Supreme Court Civil Rules. While I agree that Rule 15-1(1) provides that cost limitations apply to cases which were not “fast tracked” but should have been (regardless of the intentions of the parties), the rule nonetheless provides that even if otherwise applicable, it will not apply to cases where the court has ordered that it will cease to apply. The court did so here, with the consent of the parties and, as a result, the cost limitation set out in Rule 15-1, does not apply.


Challenging ICBC Surveillance Disbursements – Evidence of Necessity Required

December 27th, 2010

If parties to a lawsuit can’t agree which disbursements were reasonably incurred they can ask the Court to decide the issue.  As recently discussed, it is important for parties to bring appropriate evidence to Court to justify their disbursements.  This was further addressed in reasons for judgement released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry.

In today’s case (Hambrook v. Sandhu) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2004 BC motor vehicle collision.  In the course of the lawsuit ICBC made a formal offer to settle the claim for $75,000.   About 16 months later the Plaintiff accepted the offer.  The formal offer had a declining value reducing its amount by ICBC’s ‘costs and disbursements‘ incurred following the delivery of the offer.

After the offer was accpeted ICBC produced a bill of costs totalling almost $28,000.   Once of the biggest disbursements included in this total were the accounts of a private investigator who was retained to conduct video surveillance of the Plaintiff.  These accounts totalled almost $20,000.

The Plaintiff argued that ICBC’s disbursements were unreasoble.  Eventually the BC Supreme Court was asked to decide the issue.  Master Keighley sided largely with the Plaintiff and reduced ICBC’s account to just over $6,000.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons refusing the disbursements related to the private investigator and addressing the need for parties to come to Court with adequate evidence:

[11]         As a general proposition, the party claiming reimbursement for sums expended in the course of litigation bears the burden of establishing the reasonableness of the charges claimed.

[12]         I have suffered, on this assessment, from a paucity of evidence offered by the defendants in support of the disbursement claims. With respect to the Lanki Investigations Inc. invoices I have no evidence before me as to the necessity for or results of these investigations. I am told by counsel that the investigations, which consisted largely of video surveillance, were instrumental in resolving this claim. I have no evidence as to this effect, however, only records of the amount of time spent by various individuals. I note that the surveillance took place after the delivery of the offer to settle and in the last two weeks prior to trial. Mr. Smith says that the surveillance materials were of little value and that the case settled when it did because of a clarification in the law of costs and a change in his client’s employment. The former, he says, meant that his client would potentially net more money as a result of accepting the offer than he had previously anticipated, and the second meant a substantial limitation of his claim for loss of future earnings. These details are confirmed to some extent by the plaintiff’s affidavit of February 6, 2009. In the circumstances, while I am not prepared to say that the defendants’ expenses for surveillance were entirely unreasonable, I am compelled by the tariff item and the case law to allow them only if settlement was achieved as a result of the services provided. In the absence of any evidence from the defendants on this point, I cannot do so. The Lanki accounts are disallowed.


More Confusion Clarified: Trial Notices Under Former Rules Remain Valid Under New Rules

October 27th, 2010

One of the changes under the New BC Supreme Court Civil Rules relates to setting a matter down for trial.  Under the former rules a Notice of Trial was to be delivered “by a plaintiff after the time has expired for the delivery of a statement of defence or by any party after the close of pleadings“.  Under the new Rule 12-1(2) any party may deliver a Notice of Trial at any time after the commencement of a proceeding.

There has been some debate whether Notices of Trial filed under the former rules remained valid under the new rules or whether parties need to file a new Notice of Trial in these circumstances.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dealing with this procedural issue ruling that a new Notice of Trial is not necessary in circumstances where one was filed under the former rules.

In this week’s case (Sim v. Learmouth) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident.  The lawsuit was started under the former rules.  ICBC, as statutory third party, filed a Notice of Trial and Jury Notice in May, 2009.  The Plaintiff did not file their own jury notice in the time lines required under the former rules.  When the New Rules came into force the Plaintiff served a new Notice of Trial and Jury Notice.  The Plaintiff argued that Rule 12-1(6) requires party’s to file a new Notice of Trial.  ICBC disagreed and argued that the Plaintiff’s jury notice was invalid.

Master Keighley agreed with ICBC and struck the Plaintiff’s Jury Notice.  In doing so the Court explained that party’s do not need to file a Notice of Trial under the New Rules if one was filed under the former rules.  The Court provided the following useful reasons:

[17]         It only remains to be considered whether the transitional provision is effective to allow delivery of a further Notice of Trial and a re-setting of the clock with regards to the filing and serving of a Jury Notice.

[18]         In my view, it is not, for the following reasons:

(a)      The applicant’s delivery of their Notice of Trial and Jury Notice were “steps taken before July 1, 2010”;

(b)      Any right or obligation arising out of delivery of the Notice of Trial had effect on the day of delivery, namely the trial date was secured, subject to an adjournment by agreement or order. It had no other effect thereafter;

(c)      Delivery of the Jury Notice was effective to notify the parties of records as to the applicant’s intention to have a trial by judge and jury on the date of delivery. It had no other effect thereafter, although a jury trial would only be secured by a further step, the payment of jury fees prior to trial. The Notice itself, however, was fully effective on delivery.


Withdrawing Deemed Admissions: Rule 7-7(5) Given First Judicial Consideration

September 15th, 2010

Under both the old and the new BC Supreme Court Civil Rules parties to a lawsuit could ask the opposing side to make binding admissions through a “Notice to Admit”.  If the opposing side fails to respond to the Notice in the time lines required they are deemed to have made the sought admissions.  Once the admission is made it cannot be withdrawn except by consent of the parties or with the Court’s permission.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, considering when deemed admissions could be withdrawn under the New Rules.

In today’s case (Weiss v. Koenig) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 motor vehicle collision.  He claimed he sustained various injuries including bilateral hearing impairment.  In the course of the lawsuit ICBC asked the Plaintiff to make various admissions including an admission that his hearing was not affected as a result of the collision.  The Plaintiff failed to respond to the Notice to Admit in time thus was deemed to make the admissions.  The Plaintiff brought a motion to set these admissions aside and ICBC opposed.

Master Keighley granted the motion and set aside the admissions.  In doing so the Court noted that the admissions were made by inadvertence and that there was little prejudice to ICBC if these admissions were set aside.

This is the first decision I’m aware of applying Rule 7-7(5) of the new Rules of Court.  The Court noted that the new rule is almost identical as the old rule and implies that the precedents developed under the old Rule 31 remain good law.  Master Keighley set out and applied the following test in addressing the application:

Is there a triable issue which in the interests of justice should be resolved on the merits and not disposed of by deemed admission? In applying the test, all of the circumstances should be taken into account including:

1.         That the admission has been made inadvertently, hastily, or without knowledge of the facts.

2.         That the fact admitted was not within the knowledge of the party making the admission.

3.         That the fact admitted is not true.

4.         That the fact admitted is one of mixed fact and law.

5.         That the withdrawal of the admission would not prejudice a party.

6.         That there has been no delay in applying to withdraw the admission.