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Author: ERIK MAGRAKEN

Insurer Hit With $30,000 in Damages for “Mental Distress” For Wrongfully Denying Insurance Benefits

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, finding an insurance company in breach of contract and ordering them to pay, in addition to wrongfully withheld benefits, damages for “mental distress”.

In today’s case (Gascoigne v. Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company) the Plaintiff was insured with the Defendant.  She became disabled in her own occupation and sought benefits.  The Defendant initially approved the plaintiff’s claim and paid LTD benefits for a short period but later took “the position that the plaintiff is not disabled and it has refused to pay further benefits.“.

The Plaintiff produced medical evidence in support of her claim.  The Defendant did not have any independent medical exams contradicting this evidence and instead relied on a medical consultant whose evidence the Court criticized as amounting “to little more than generic opinions unsupported by the evidence”.

In ordering that the Defendant pay damages for ‘mental distress’ for wrongfully denying insurance benefits Mr. Justice Skolrood provided the following reasons:

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Court Declines to Order Double Costs After Jury Dismisses Injury Claim Based on Liability

Reasons for judgement were published last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating the discretionary nature of double costs awards following the dismissal of a personal injury claim.

In last week’s case (Findlay v. George) the Plaintiff was involved in a significant 2013 collison.  The crash left the defendant motorist dead at the scene.  The Plaintiff  “attempted to assist with the rescue and resuscitation of the defendant at the scene and, in the result, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder “.

The Plaintiff’s damages were potentially significant with the Court noting “given the commonality of the medical evidence, damages could have reached seven figures.”.

Prior to trial ICBC provided a formal settlement offer of $80,000.  The Plaintiff declined and proceeded to trial where the claim was dismissed based on liability.  ICBC sought double costs.  Mr. Justice Harvey refused to grant these noting costs awards are discretionary and given the potential damages at play and further some evidence where contributory negligence could have been established it was reasonable for the Plaintiff to proceed to trial in the face of this offer.  In declining to award double costs the Court provided the following reasons:

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$120,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for TMJ and Trigeminal Neuralgia

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic jaw injury suffered in a vehicle collision.

In the recent case (Tomas v. Sticha) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 collision that the Defendant accepted fault for.  The crash led a variety of soft tissue injuries along with TMJ syndrome and trigeminal neuralgia.  The symptoms persisted to the time of trial.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $120,000 Mr. Justice Tammen provided the following reasons:

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$65,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Intermittent Soft Tissue Injuries

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic injuries sustained in a vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Juelfs v. McCue) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2014 collision that the Defendants accepted fault for.   The crash resulted in a variety of injuries some of which continued to linger to the time of trial and had a poor prognosis for full recovery.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $60,000 Mr. Justice Riley made the below findings and provided the following reasons:

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Occupier Not Liable for “Sudden, Random, and Apparently Unprecedented Act of Violence” By Customer

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing a lawsuit following a customer on customer assault at a commercial establishment.

In today’s case (Tanaka v. London Drugs Limited) the Plaintiff was shopping at London Drugs when another customer suddenly and unexpectedly punched the Plaintiff in the face knocking him unconscious.  The assailant remained unidentified.  The Plaintiff argued London Drugs should be vicariously liable for the assault either based on the principles of Negligence of Occupier’s Liability legislation.  In dismissing the claim and finding there should be no vicarious liability in the face of a “sudden, random, and apparently unprecedented act of violence” Madam Justice Horsman provided the following reasons:

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$72,000 Part 7 Benefits Deduction Ordered Following Tort Trial

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, ordering a reduction of a trial award by over $72,000 to account for paid or payable part 7 benefits.

In today’s case (Sangha v. Inverter Technologies Ltd.) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision.  Following a 10 day trial the Plaintiff’s claim was assessed at $215,380.  Subsequently the Defendants applied to have this assessment significantly reduced by part 7 benefits that were paid or payable to the Plaintiff.  In reducing the judgement by over  $72,000 Mr. Justice Riley provided the following reasons and provided significant weight and reliance on an ICBC adjuster’s evidence that such benefits would be paid:

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When a Two Year Limitation Period is Actually Three

In British Columbia many legal claims are subject to a two year limitation period.  Once a lawsuit is started in the BC Supreme Court a Plaintiff has a year to serve the claim on the Defendants being sued.   This period, totalling potentially three years, is considered when adding new parties to an existing lawsuit as demonstrated in reasons for judgement released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.

In today’s case (Jamal v. Young) the Plaintiff was involved in a series of collisions and sued for damages.  The Plaintiff sought to add more parties to one of the claims beyond the expiration of the two year limitation period.  The application was opposed with the Defendants arguing the passage of time and limitation period was prejudicial.  The Court granted the application noting the relevant period to consider prejudice in these circumstances is three years.  Master Elwood provided the following useful summary of the law:

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Diminished Housekeeping Capacity Claim Assessed for “Fastidious Housekeeper”

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for diminished housekeeping capacity for a plaintiff with ‘fastidious’ housekeeping standards.

In today’s case (Broomfield v. Lof) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2014 rear end collision. Liability was admitted.   The crash resulted in a variety of injuries the most serious of which were chronic depression and somatic symptom disorder.  These resulted in a period of total disability followed by the Plaintiff being able to return to work but on a reduced basis.

The Plaintiff had restrictions in her housekeeping abilities and these were medically supported.  The Defendant opposed damages for diminished housekeeping capacity in part because the plaintiff admitted that “she was able to do what she wanted if she pushed through the pain“.  Despite this admission the court found the evidence justified damages for diminished housekeeping capacity and awarded just over $100,000 for past and future losses.  In reaching this assessment Madam Justice Young provided the following reasons:

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$130,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Depression and Somatic Symptom Disorder

Adding to this site’s archives of psychiatric injury assessments, reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic depression and somatic symptom disorder.

In today’s case (Broomfield v. Lof) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2014 rear end collision.  The impact was “significant” and the Defendant admitted fault.

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“Little Weight” Given to ICBC Expert Witness With “Lack of an Open Mind”

Adding to this site’s archives of expert witnesses being judicially criticized for advocacy, reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, expressing reservations about the reliability of an ICBC retained expert who “became somewhat combative during cross-examination” downplayed the Plaintiff’s subjective reports of pain and showed a “lack of an open mind“.

In today’s case (Luck v. Shack) the plaintiff was injured in a 2014 collision that the Defendant accepted fault for.  The crash resulted in chronic soft tissue injuries and myofascial pain syndrome.  In the course of the lawsuit the Defendant retained an orthopaedic surgeon who provided an opinion minimizing the Plaintiff’s injuries and their relationship to the crash.  In concluding that “little weight” should be given to this doctor’s opinion Madam Justice MacDonald provided the following comments:

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