Double Costs Awarded After Jury Dismisses ICBC Injury Claim
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, awarding a Defendant double costs following a Jury dismissing a Plaintiff’s ICBC Injury Claim.
This is one of the first cases that I am aware of under Rule 37B where a defendant was awarded double costs.
In today’s case (Luzuka v. Chuang) the Plaintiff was involved in an intersection collision. Both fault and value of the claim were at issue. ICBC, through the defendant’s counsel, made a formal settlement offer in 2007 for $40,000. This offer was rejected by the Plaintiff. The claim proceeded to trial which lasted 9 days before a Judge and Jury. The Jury dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim finding that she did not prove the Defendant was responsible for the collision.
The Defendant sought an award of costs up to the date of delivery of the offer and double costs from that point on. The application was largely successful and Mr. Justice Harvey noted that the “deterrent functions” of punishing a party who refused to accept reasonable settlement offer should not be ignored in such applicaitons. Specifically Mr. Justice Harvey found as follows:
 The offer to settle was one which ought to reasonably have been accepted by the plaintiff within seven days of the disclosure to counsel of the identity of the witness, Ms. Kapil, which occurred during examinations for discovery on November 27, 2007.
 By that date, the plaintiff’s medical condition was well defined and it ought to have been clear to the plaintiff that liability for the accident was seriously in dispute.
 As was noted by Hinkson J. in Bailey, at para. 39, a refusal to award double costs following the date determined that the offer of the defendants ought reasonably to have been accepted, “would completely ignore the important deterrent function of the Rules”.
 Therefore, the defendants are entitled to costs and disbursements of the action until December 4, 2007, pursuant to Rule 57(9). Thereafter, the defendants are entitled to double costs together with actual disbursements, pursuant to Rule 37B(5)(b).
While no mention of the amount is made, the costs and disbursements stemming from this order would likely be in the tens of thousands of dollars. This ‘deterrent‘ effect is a real one and unfortunately needs to be accounted for when preparing for trial where a formal settlement offer is made under Rule 37B.
As readers of this blog are likely aware, Rule 37B will be replaced with Rule 9 on July 1, 2010 when the new BC Civil Rules come into force. The new rule uses language that is almost identical to Rule 37B which should help cases such as this one retain their value as precedents.