Defendant's Insured Status Shields Plaintiff From Hefty Costs Consequences
As previously discussed, when a Plaintiff fails to beat a Defendant’s formal settlement offer at trial they can be exposed to significant costs consequences. One factor that Courts can consider when using their discretion is the financial status of the parties including whether the Defendant is insured. Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, using this factor in shielding a Plaintiff from potentially hefty costs consequences.
In this week’s case (Cunningham v. Bloomfield) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision. She sued for damages and the claim proceeded to jury trial. Prior to trial the Defendant provided a formal settlement offer of $12,500. The jury awarded $5,000 in total damages triggering a Defence application for payment of post offer costs. Mr. Justice Crawford rejected the application finding stripping the Plaintiff of all her costs was a more appropriate result. In addressing the financial position of the parties the Court provided the following reasons:
 The award of the jury was low. But as noted in Cairns at para. 50, the unpredictability of a jury is a relevant consideration.
 It is said that the plaintiff is not lacking in income and no evidence as to her assets have been put forward to properly consider her position. But as discussed in several of the cases, the defendant through their insurer is able to cover their costs. The plaintiff on the other hand has a dependent husband and a reduced income, though that by choice.
 The other factor I consider appropriate is of course my assessment of the plaintiff’s case upon the issuing of the writ and I have found counsel’s assessment was over-optimistic and therefore the plaintiff is already deprived of costs.
 In the circumstances I will allow the plaintiff her disbursements throughout, but I will make no order as to costs payable to either side.