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Self Represented Litigant Hit With $19,000 Costs Award After Injury Claims Fall Short

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry, largely rejecting personal injury claims following two relatively modest collisions.
In today’s case (Ducharme v. Bradler) the Plaintiff was involved in two collisions in 2010.  The Defendants admitted fault. Prior to trial ICBC tabled two formal settlement offers, the first for $21,000 and the second for $40,000.   The Plaintiff rejected these and proceeded to trial.
At trial the Court raised concerns about the Plaintiff’s reliability and largely rejected her claims awarding global damages of $1,500 for both collisions.  After learning of the formal offers the Court went on to award $19,000 in costs against the plaintiff.  In reaching this decision Madam Justice Fitzpatrick provided the following reasons:

[45]        THE COURT: In the ordinary course, Ms. Ducharme would have been awarded her costs in both actions. In accordance with Rule 15-1(15)(b), the costs of this two day trial would be $9,500 plus disbursements. However, defence counsel has referred me to previously delivered offers to settle, which I have the discretion to consider: see Rule 15-1(16).

[46]         These actions were commenced in December 2011 and July 2012. Mr. Spinks has outlined the settlement offers that have been extant for some time. In January 2012, there was an offer in the amount of $21,000; and, in April 2014, there was an offer in the amount of $40,000. Clearly, those offers substantially exceed the result in this trial and, in my view, should reasonably have been accepted by Ms. Ducharme, particularly when it became apparent that she could not or would not marshal the medical evidence she needed in proving her claims. No submissions were made on the relative financial circumstances of the parties.

[47]        I accept the position of the defence in respect of the award of costs. In the circumstances, I am satisfied that a double costs award is appropriate: Gichuru v. Pallai, 2013 BCCA 60. Accordingly, costs are awarded in favour of the defendants in the sum of $19,000 plus reasonable disbursements.

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