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Staged Collisions Leading to ICBC Payouts Lead to Civil Fraud Judgment

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding numerous defendants were involved in several staged collisions.

In the recent case (ICBC v. Singh) several defendants were sued for fraud by ICBC to recover money the insurer paid out from the claims.  Much of this was for vehicle damage claims and other various accident benefits.  Injury claims were advanced by some of the parties as well but adjudication of those were put off until the determination of the fraud claims.

In total ICBC paid out over $83,000 plus additional legals costs related to the claims to date.  In finding the collisions staged and ordering repayment of the damages Madam Justice Duncan provided the following reasons:

[3]             While the plaintiff has pleaded fraud, conspiracy and unjust enrichment, its primary position is that the defendants made fraudulent insurance claims after the staged accidents. In Insurance Corporation of British Columbia v. Husseinian, 2008 BCSC 241, Gerow J. summarized the elements of civil fraud in this particular context:

[21]      In order to succeed in its fraud claims, ICBC must show, in respect of each defendant for those claims, that:

1.         the collision he was involved in was staged;

2.         that the defendant either knew or was wilfully blind to the fact that he was going to be involved in a staged collision before it occurred;

3.         the defendant represented to ICBC that he was involved in an accident, i.e. an unstaged collision; and

4.         ICBC paid money as a result of that representation.

[4]             An individual not actually present in a vehicle involved in a staged collision may also be liable, if that defendant understood and assisted with the plan to defraud ICBC: Husseinian, at para. 22.

[5]             The plaintiff bears the burden of proof against the defendants on a balance of probabilities. The plaintiff’s case relies on the inherent improbability of things occurring as the defendants claimed to the plaintiff immediately after the accident, when the details of those claims are examined in a broader evidentiary context.

[210]     I find that Collision #1 was staged. Mr. Haghmohammadi was the organizer. Pro Choice, through Major, knowingly permitted the Zephyr to be used in the accident for the purpose of profiting from the vehicle damage claim. The participants – Inderjit, Ms. Prakash and Ms. Mehran – were all in on the plan.

[211]     Mr. Haghmohammadi, Major, Pro Choice, Inderjit, Ms. Prakash and Ms. Mehran are jointly and severally liable for the plaintiff’s damages…

[213]     The total amount of damages for Collision #1, apart from legal costs, is $35,174.85. From that amount I deduct the plaintiff’s recovery of $582.86 from salvage for the Zephyr and $534.87 for the Buick, leaving $34,057.12

[214]     I find that Mr. Haghmohammadi, Ms. Prakash and Mr. Rasuli combined to set up and execute Collision #2 and are jointly and severally liable for the plaintiff’s damages:

[215]     The total money paid out as a result of Collision #2, exclusive of the plaintiff’s right to recover legal costs for defending against Mr. Haghmohammadi’s personal injury claim, is $22,027.13. The plaintiff recovered $1,011 from salvage for the Saturn, leaving a total of $21,016.

216]     I find that Collision #3 was staged, likely to ensure that the Hyundai was damaged beyond repair to secure a payout from the plaintiff, which Collision #2 had failed to do. Inderjit, Major, Gursharanjit and Mr. Haghmohammadi are all jointly and severally liable for Collision #3…

[217]     The plaintiff’s losses in respect of Collision #3, exclusive of legal costs, were $32,223.18. The plaintiff recovered $3,395 for the Hyundai and $820.02 for the Acura as salvage, leaving a total of $28,008.16, exclusive of legal costs.

[218]     The plaintiff seeks an award of punitive damages against the defendants. I will determine the issue of punitive damages once the plaintiff’s total claimed losses have been determined at a post-judgment hearing.

[219]     Unless there are matters I am not aware of, the plaintiff is entitled to its costs at Scale B from the defendants. Any issue concerning costs may be addressed at the post-judgment hearing concerning the plaintiff’s total claimed losses.

fraud, ICBC v. Singh, Madam Justice Duncan, Staged Collisions