Contingency Fees and Catastrophic Infant Claims Discussed

Section 40 of the BC Infants Act requires judicial approval of injury claim settlements involving infants with claims settled at over $50,000.  The approval of legal fees is part of the judicial scrutiny process.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing such a settlement and further setting out a useful chart summarizing previous judicially approved fees.
In this week’s case (E.B. v. Basi) the infant plaintiff was catastrophically injured while in foster care during an alleged intentional “shaken baby” assault.  This resulted in severe traumatic brain injuries requiring one-to-one care on a daily basis for the duration of the child’s life.
A settlement of $13,000,000 was judicially approved.  The decision is worth reviewing in full for Mr. Justice Macaulay’s careful analysis of the factors that need to be considered when approving fees in such claims given the non-binding nature of infant contingency fee agreements.  At the conclusion of the reasons for judgement the Court set out the below useful chart of previously approved infant settlements.


Case

Nature of
Claim

Settlement Amount

Settlement Timing

Legal Fee Sought

Hours Estimated


Fee A
warded

Harrington v Royal Columbia
1995 CanLII 2345 (BCCA)

Medical malpractice

$1.5 million and  costs

3 days < trial

$500,000

Estimate of 800 hours not accepted by
trial judge; 280 hours accepted

$175,000

Richardson v Low
1996 CanLII 571

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$2.27 million

Settled well before trial

$897,750

Court says no basis to estimate time but must be less than 260 hours

$325,000

Cook v
Mission
1996 CanLII 1394

Medical malpractice

$2.6 million

Settled on 1st day of trial

$850,000

Non recorded

$650,000

Adams v Emmott
1997 CanLII 746

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$3 million

Settled Thursday before
Tuesday trial

$725,000

300 hours estimate by Court

$600,000

Chong v
Royal
Columbia
1997 CanLII 4362

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$2.5 million

After 1 week of trial

$750,000

2131.2 hours
for counsel
and 654.9 for paralegals and students

$750,000

Renaerts v Korn
1998 CanLII 4979

Medical malpractice (birth and abandonment; intentional infliction of harm)

$8 million
and
$500,000
costs

Settled weekend before trial (numerous pretrial motions and limitation defence)

$2.2 million

Hours for 3 counsel
valued at $825,000

$1.8 million

Duchene v Woolley
2002 BCSC 1878 (CanLII)

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$3.6 million

Settled 2 days before trial although defendants did not serve liability reports

$1.244 million

167 hours estimated but Court notes more was probably spent

$900,000

Bizove v
Cornish
2003 BCSC 1615 (CanLII)

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$3.566 million

3 days before trial

$750,000

740 hours (3 senior counsel)

$750,000

Makowsky v
Jaron
2004 BCSC
419 (CanLII)

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$3.2 million

4 months before trial but liability ceased to be issue several months before trial

$900,000

136 hours recorded but Court suggests they must have exceeded 200 hours

$600,000

Strachan v
Winder
2005 BCSC 59
(CanLII)

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$4 million

2nd day of 2 week trial

$862,500

Recorded time for 3 senior counsel 484 hours

$800,000

Delaronde v.
HMTQ
2000 BCSC
1626

MCFD shaken baby case

$5.448 million

Settled after 4 weeks of evidence and 3 days of submissions

$1.347 million

None mentioned

$1.347 million

B.M.
(Guardian ad
Litem of)
v R.M.
2011 BCSC 64

MCFD shaken baby case

$5.35 million

Liability trial (8 days) and appeal then settled several months before trial

$1.7 million

Hours valued at $607,320

$1.475 million

BC Infants Act, bc injury law, E.B. v. Basi, Mr. Justice Macaulay, Section 40 Infants Act

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
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