Court Largely Rejects Claim of Plaintiff Who "Attempted to Coerce (Witnesss) To Give False Evidence"
Plaintiff credibility is integral to prosecutions involving chronic soft tissue injuries. If a Plaintiff’s credibility is successfully attacked the underlying claim can be impacted accordingly. Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Nelson Registry, demonstrating this.
In this week’s case (Harshenin v. MacLeod) the Plaintiff was involved in a significant rear end collision in 2008. The Defendant admitted fault for the crash. The Plaintiff alleged the crash caused long standing injuries which forced him into early retirement. The Plaintiff sought damages of over $470,000. The Court, however, had serious concerns about the plaintiff’s credibility and largely rejected his claim. In awarding less than 10% of the damages sought Mr. Justice Cole provided the following comments about the plaintiff’s credibility:
35] At the same time the plaintiff was claiming, since the date of the accident to the date of trial, that he spent approximately $36,162.29 on out-of-pocket expenses for transportation, accommodation, meals and massage therapy as a result of the accident. Many of the out-of-pocket expenses were shown to be either not related to the accident, excessive, or lacked proper documentation.
 For instance, the plaintiff would claim massage therapy while he was in Lumby/Vernon, visiting his girlfriend, and then staying in a hotel and charging meals for both himself and his girlfriend. He failed to provide documentation in respect to the massage therapy. He travelled from Castlegar to the Lumby/Vernon area on February 12, 2008, which is a 4 ½-5 hour drive; he also travelled to the Lumby/Vernon area to visit his girlfriend and for a massage on March 13, 22, 31, April 10, and 30. In the latter part of May he hauled his fifth-wheel trailer to Vernon which took approximately 8-9 hours and then went to Kamloops with his girlfriend to purchase a new fifth-wheel trailer. What is most telling is that, although he said the massage therapy was somewhat of a unique nature that was provided to him by the individual in Lumby, those trips ceased when his relationship with his girlfriend was terminated.
 The plaintiff also claimed receipts for meals for two people in Howe Sound and Squamish on two separate occasions but could not explain the purpose of those trips, and there was no documented evidence that he was there for a medical purpose. There is also a group of three receipts, undated, that he claims for, but has no idea what the receipts represent. When asked why he kept receipts for food and hotel and not for massage therapy, the plaintiff gave the unbelievable answer that, “I was so relaxed I forgot to get receipts”…
 I was impressed by Ms. Cymbal as a witness. Her evidence is internally consistent; her evidence is supported by her Employment Insurance claim forms that were filed in these proceedings. I am satisfied Ms. Cymbal still, in her own way, likes the plaintiff. She appears to be a very forgiving person and I am satisfied that she was forthright and honest. I therefore accept her evidence and reject the evidence of the plaintiff and Darren when it conflicts with her evidence. I am satisfied that the plaintiff has attempted to coerce her to give false evidence with respect to his claim. I am satisfied that he sold his business to his son because he wanted to retire. His suggestion that he may lose his business and farm is without any factual basis whatsoever. His pattern of travel and spending money for the purchase of vehicles is all inconsistent with his evidence that he was broke or could be foreclosed out of his business and farm. The dishonest receipts that he has attempted to collect on for trips that were clearly unnecessary and for meals that were for him and his girlfriend are consistent with his inability to tell the truth. I am therefore satisfied that the plaintiff sold his business to his son because he wanted to retire and for no other reason…
 I am satisfied that the plaintiff has suffered a mild neck injury along with short term pain and lower and upper back pain, all of which should have, in my view, resolved within 2 months.