$40,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Aggravation of Fibromyalgia; Rule 15 Soft Cap Exceeded
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for an aggravation of pre-existing fibromyalgia.
In this week’s case (Paradis v. Gill) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 collision. Fault was admitted. Despite expressing some “reservations in accepting the entirety of the evidence put forth in the plaintiff’s case” Mr. Justice Masuhara accepted that the collision caused an aggravation of pre-existing fibromyalgia which was on-going by the time of trial. In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $40,000 the Court provided the following reasons:
 Applying the principles of causation as set out in Resurfice Corp. v. Hanke, 2007 SCC 7,  1 S.C.R. 333; Athey v. Leonati,  3 S.C.R. 458; and most recently in Farrant v. Laktin, 2011 BCCA 336, as well as recognizing the comment that courts should exercise caution when there is little objective evidence of continuing complaints of pain persisting beyond what the defence asserts is the normal recovery period, I find that the Accident aggravated Ms. Paradis’ condition of fibromyalgia. My view is that Ms. Paradis’ pain is predominantly in the mild to moderate range (though it can increase) and relates to her lower back; that she suffered from back and neck pain as well as headaches prior to the Accident but not as great; that she is able to stand far longer than she says; that she has the capacity to lift more than she asserts; and can engage in more activities than the physical capacity concludes. The plaintiff also has full range of motion at her neck, shoulders, elbows, forearms, wrists, lower back, hips, knees, ankles and feet. A significant part of her physical restrictions are not substantially related to aggravation from the Accident but rather to the unrepaired injury to her left knee, the osteoarthritis found in her knees, as well as her weight. However, I find that she has suffered some loss of capacity…
 Ms. Paradis had a history of back, neck and knee pain, and headaches prior to the Accident. Also, the medical evidence indicates that Ms. Paradis has full range of motion in all areas of her body, from her neck to her feet.
 The authorities referred to by the plaintiff in support of its position on quantum largely do not deal with persons with a pre-existing condition of pain comparable to the plaintiff. The cases also deal with persons who enjoyed activities that were more significantly impacted by their injuries than in the instant case. In my view, the injuries in the cases submitted by the defendant are somewhat more comparable to the plaintiff. Also, I accept that Ms. Paradis’ level of pain and disability can be significantly controlled with proper management. The defence’s position that some recognition for the plaintiff not taking reasonable steps to reduce her weight is addressed later under mitigation.
 In all of the circumstances, I assess general damages as $40,000.
This case also appears to be one of the first cases to be prosecuted under the Fast Track with damages exceeding the soft cap. Despite the cap set out in Rule 15-1(1)(a), Rule 15-1(3) states that “nothing in this rule prevents a court from awarding damages to a plaintiff in a fast track action for an amount in excess of $100,000“. This week’s case was apparently prosecuted under the fast track (as is evidenced by the Court’s costs award set out in paragraph 119) and had global damages of $116,238 assessed.
bc injury law, Fibromyalgia, Mr. Justice Masuhara, Paradis v. Gill, Rule 15, Rule 15-1, Rule 15-1(1), Rule 15-1(1)(a), Rule 15-1(3)