Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, in what the trial judge described as a ‘shockingly unreasonable‘ verdict by a Jury.
In today’s case (Evans v. Metcalfe) the Plaintiff was injured in a BC motor vehicle collision. Fault was admitted by the other motorist. The case went to trial before a Jury with Mr. Justice Romilly presiding as the trial judge.
The Plaintiff led evidence that, as a result of her accident related injuries, she was disabled from working and sought damages accordingly. The Plaintiff’s out of pocket expenses for alleged accident related treatments exceeded $25,000.
The Jury largely rejected the Plaintiff’s claim and assessed total damages at $17,300 which included $1,000 for pain and suffering, $6,000 for special damages and $10,300 for past loss of income. The Jury then reduced this award by 15% for ‘failure to mitigate‘ for a total award of $14,705.
The Defendant asked the Judge to enter Judgement based on the Jury’s award. The Plaintiff argued that the Jury’s award was “unreasonable” and that the verdict should be set aside with a new trial ordered.
Mr. Justice Romilly agreed that the Jury was wrong in reducing the damages by 15% for failure to mitigate but concluded that other than increasing the judgement to the original $17,300 any changes to the Verdict should be left to the Court of Appeal.
Jury’s in BC do not give any reasons for their award and they cannot be contacted after they are discharged to gain insight into their deliberations. Accordingly it difficult for the Court of Appeal to know how a Jury reaches a particular verdict and feedback from the trial judge is welcome. Anticipating that this matter would be appealed Mr. Justice Romilly voiced disagreement with the Jury’s findings and provided the following criticism:
 Although it has not been specifically requested of me, I feel it necessary to comment on the reasonableness of the jury’s verdict. In doing so I am taking in mind both the utility of such comments expressed by Southin J.A. in Johnson, and the limits to them as stated by Garson J.A. in Boota.
 In my opinion, as a long-time member of the bench, the jury’s award in this case has surpassed the level of “shockingly unreasonable”. The amount of damages awarded for non-pecuniary damages represents a fraction of what was sought. Whatever the reason, the jury felt the need to punish Ms. Evans in a way that does not accord with the law. In my judgment I have already discussed some failures of the jury to appropriately apply the law to the actual evidence; I believe that these failures (and more) are further manifest in their wholly disproportionate award. No jury reviewing the evidence as a whole and acting judicially could have reached the verdict issued in these proceedings; the evidence cannot support the verdict.