Tag: disbursements

BC Court of Appeal: Hiring Multiple Lawyers not a Reasonable Disbursement


When a party succeeds in a BC Supreme Court lawsuit the losing party usually has to pay the winner’s ‘costs and disbursements‘.  Disbursements are the out of pocket expenses incurred in moving the lawsuit forward.  (common disbursements include Court filing fees and the costs of medical reports).
What if your case is complex and your lawyer needs to hire an additional lawyer to properly advance your case?  Is this extra legal expenses a reasonable disbursement?  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Court of Appeal addressing this topic.
In today’s case (Baiden v. Vancouver) the Plaintiff was injured at the hands of the Vancouver Police.  Before the matter could proceed to trial the Defendant’s raised a “s. 10 WCB Defence”.   A section 10 defence, when successful, prevents a plaintiff from suing in court where the Plaintiff is injured while acting within the scope and course  of his/her employment and the at fault entity is also a person or employer that caused the accident in the course of their employment.  In these circumstances the Plaintiff must turn to WCB for compensation.
Once this defence is raised, BC Courts cannot deal with its merits rather under s. 257 of the Workers Compensation Act the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) has the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the status of parties to a legal action.  This is frustrating to Plaintiffs because if this defence is pursued the lawsuit is basically put on hold, a hearing has to be had at WCAT, and only if the defence fails at WCAT can the Plaintiff carry on with their lawsuit.  That is exactly what happened in today’s case.
Before heading to WCAT the Plaintiff’s lawyer hired an additional lawyer to assist with the process.  Ultimately the WCAT hearing was successful for the Plaintiff and the case proceeded to trial.  After judgmenttThe trial judge awarded the Plaintiff $8,400 to compensate him for the additional fee of hiring a second lawyer to deal with the WCB issue.  (You can click here to read my article summarizing the trial judge’s reasons)
The Defendants appealed arguing that the judge was wrong in awarding this as a disbursements.  The BC Court of Appeal agreed with the Defendants and overturned the trial judge.  In doing so the BC High Court provided the following reasons making it clear that the expense of multiple lawyers will rarely be considered a reasonable disbursement:

[25]         The limited authority on this issue in this province supports the view that if counsel retains another lawyer to perform a specialized function due to his or her own lack of experience, it does not follow that such fees are recoverable from the opposing party, but remains a matter between the original lawyer and his client: Noble v. Wong, Bell v. Fantini (1981), 32 B.C.L.R. 322 (S.C.). That is a practical and appropriate approach, and should have been followed here. Outsourcing portions of legal work during litigation and then permitting recovery of that lawyer’s fees as a disbursement undermines the policy of party and party costs. While there may be cases in which this can be justified, they would be limited and exceptional.

[26]         This is not such a case. I would therefore allow the appeal, and set aside the order permitting Mr. Baiden to recover Mr. Ishkanian’s fees of $8,400 as a disbursement.

Cost of MRI and Medical Report Ordered By Lawyer Disallowed


The winning side to a lawsuit in the BC Supreme Court is allowed to recover reasonable disbursements.  Some of the greatest costs of advancing injury lawsuits are those associated with expert medical evidence.  Today, reasons for judgement were released by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, considering two common disbursements of Plaintiff lawyers in ICBC injury lawsuits; Private MRI’s, and medico-legal reports.
In today’s case (Farrokhmanesh v. Sahib) the Plaintiff was injured in two BC car crashes.  He settled his claims for $42,000 plus costs and disbursements.  The parties could not agree on some of the disbursements and the BC Supreme Court was asked to resolve the dispute.  The two biggest items in dispute were private MRI’s ordered by the Plaintiff’s lawyer and a medico-legal report from a psychologist.  Both of these items were disallowed as unreasonable expenses.

  • MRI

The Plaintiff’s lawyer sent his client for a private MRI to better investigate a shoulder injury.   The two scans cost just over $2,000.  The Plaintiff’s lawyer gave the following explanation for incurring this expense in the prosecution of the claim:

The plaintiff claimed damages herein as a result of injuries she sustained to both her neck and trapezius (shoulder area). Her symptoms persisted for years after the accident and were continuing when I made arrangements to have the plaintiff undergo magnetic imaging. I wanted to obtain the best possible imaging in order to ascertain the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and to uncover objective evidence of injury…

I ordered the scans because in my view presentation of my client’s claim required it. The plaintiff had been off work for a long time and had continuing complaints. These pain symptoms were also causing significant depression. I knew the fact of whether or not there were objective signs of injury as opposed to only subjective complaints was going to be an important issue at trial and thus I ordered the scans to obtain evidence going to this issue.

I knew when I ordered the scans that upon resolution of the subject claims the client would likely be required to sign a release thereby ending her ability to make any further claim for damage, on a permanent basis, to her neck and shoulder. Knowing this and the fact I was responsible for giving advice to the plaintiff regarding her injury and damages and the release, I ordered the scans to ensure there was no latent injury not previously uncovered. This was one of the reasons I ordered the scans. The plaintiff herein was going to forever give up her right to sue in connection with these injuries and thus it was my view that it was important to have the scans undertaken. In fact it was a term of the settlement herein that the plaintiff sign an ICBC form of release.

Registrar Sainty disallowed these disbursements providing the following reasons:

[38] The test for determining whether a disbursement ought to be allowed is:

…whether at the time the disbursement or expense was incurred it was a proper disbursement in the sense of not being extravagant, negligent, mistaken or a result of excessive caution or excessive zeal, judged by the situation at the time when the disbursement or expense was incurred”. (Van Daele v. Van Daele, [1983] B.C.J. No. 1482; 56 B.C.L.R. 178 (C.A.) (at para. 109))

[39] The provisions of Rule 57(4) of the Rules of Court relating to the Registrar’s discretion to award disbursements are broad. In general:

The registrar must consider all of the circumstances of each case and determine whether the disbursements were reasonably incurred and justified. He must be careful to balance his duty to disallow expenses incurred due to negligence or mistake, or which are extravagant, with his duty to recognize that a carefully prepared case requires that counsel use care in the choice of expert witnesses and examine all sources of information and possible evidence which may be of advantage to his client. (see Bell v. Fantini(1981), 32 B.C.L.R. 322 (S.C.)) at para. 23.))..

[44] I am going to disallow the claim for reimbursement for the two MRI scans. I cannot accede to Mr. Fahey’s argument that simply because he, as counsel, thought it was necessary to obtain MRI scans I ought not to question that decision unless I find it to be extravagant or overly zealous. In my view, and I am going to expand on what Registrar Blok held in Ward v. W.S. Leasing Ltd., to be allowed as a necessary and proper disbursement, there must be some medical reason for ordering an MRI. It is not simply enough that counsel seeks some (potential) objective evidence of an injury. Nor is it enough that counsel wishes to ensure that there is no latent injury such that his client might sign the standard release required. There is always a risk in personal injury litigation that a new injury or an injury that has not yet been determined might be found following settlement. That is simply a risk of litigation and a risk of settlement.

[45] I am not satisfied on the evidence before me that costs of the MRI scans were necessarily or properly incurred in the conduct of the proceeding and I will not allow them.

  • Psychologists Medico-Legal Report:

The other disputed item was a medico-legal report from a psychologist.   The Plaintiff retained the services of both a psychologist and a psychiatrist.  They both authored reports addressing the Plaintiff’s injuries.  The cost of the psychologist’s report was near $4,000.  The Defendant argued it was unreasonable for the Plaintiff to retain both experts stating that “(either) one of them could have provided the expert evidence required“.  Registrar Sainty agreed and disallowed this disbursement.  In doing so the Court reasoned as follows:

[52] I am not convinced, on the evidence before me, that it was necessary and proper to hire both experts given that their expertise clearly overlaps and each used similar methodology in assessing the plaintiff. The plaintiff saw both Dr. Joy and Dr. Sehon in July 2008. There was no reason, in my view, to have the plaintiff assessed by both, except to some extent, to do some “doctor shopping” (and in saying so I mean no disrespect to Mr. Fahey’s decision to have the plaintiff seen by both Dr. Joy and Dr. Sehon). My view is bolstered by the fact that, at the time that both experts were retained (or at least at the time their reports were ordered), the plaintiff had not yet seen Dr. O’Shaunessy (and certainly his report was not available) and thus Mr. Fahey’s concerns over having an expert who could “match” Dr. O’Shaunessy were unfounded.

[53] I find that is was not necessary or proper to have two experts engaged in a similar assessment at the time these experts were retained and, accordingly I disallow the claim for the expert report and fees charged by Dr. Joy in the amount of $3,937.50.

Can Interest on Disbursements be Recovered in BC Injury Litigation?


As I’ve written before, personal injury litigation can be an expensive business.
It usually costs thousands of dollars if not tens of thousands of dollars to bring an injury claim to trial in the BC Supreme Court.  I’m not talking about lawyers fees here either.  What I’m referring to is the cost of gathering evidence for presentation in court.  To succeed in Court usually expert opinion evidence is required to address many areas that frequently come up in injury litigation such as diagnosis of injury, prognosis, disability etc.   Expert medical reports usually cost anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.
These significant disbursements are often funded by personal injury lawyers or on a line of credit.  When a Plaintiff is successful in their personal injury claim they can recover their reasonable disbursements from the opposing party.  But can the interest on these disbursements be recovered?  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry addressing this topic.
In today’s case (Milne v. Clarke) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 BC Car crash.  In advancing his claim private MRI’s were arranged between 2005-2006.  These cost $975 a piece.
The claim settled in 2009 for $170,000 plus costs.  By the time of settlement the costs of the MRI’s with interest came to almost $4,000.  The Plaintiff sought this amount from the Defence and the Defence refused to pay.
Ultimately the matter went before a Master of the BC Supreme Court who held that the interest was not recoverable.  The Plaintiff appealed.  Mr. Justice Burnyeat reversed the Master’s ruling finding that interest on disbursements can be recoverable.  Specifically the Court reasoned as follows:

[4] In support of the submission that the Learned Registrar erred in principle, Mr. Milne submits that the law which was binding on the Learned Registrar is set out in McCreight v. Currie, [2008] B.C.J. No. 2494, where ….  In allowing the interest, Registrar Young concluded:

… The plaintiff really had no choice but to pay the interest given that she did not have the funds to be retaining experts and paying for their reports up front.  I suppose the defendant’s choice was that the defendant could have offered to pay for the report up front once it was disclosed to him, but no offer was forthcoming.  Given this was the only way to finance the obtaining of a report, I find this to be a reasonable expense and I will allow it.

[6] Rule 57(4) of the Supreme Court Rules provides that, in addition to determining fees, the Registrar must:

(a)   determine which expenses and disbursements have been necessarily or properly incurred in the conduct of the proceeding, and

(b)   allow a reasonable amount for those expenses and disbursements.

[7] In support of the application, it is said that Mr. Milne had no means of paying for the required M.R.I. scans other than to borrow money from the provider and that, since the cost of the M.R.I. had already been agreed upon, so too should the interest on the unpaid accounts rendered by the provider of the M.R.I. images.  Here, it is the provider of the M.R.I. and not counsel for Mr. Milne who is charging the interest on the invoices.

[8] I find that the Learned Registrar erred in principle.  The December 29, 2009 decision was clearly wrong.  First, even if the Learned Registrar was not bound by the decision inMcCreight, I am not bound by the decision reached by the Learned Registrar herein.  I am satisfied that the statement set out in McCreight accurately represents the law in British Columbia.  Second, the decision in Hudniuk relates to the question of whether disbursement interest is a head of damage and not to the question of whether it is recoverable as costs on an assessment.

[9] The law in British Columbia is that interest charged by a provider of services where the disbursement has been paid by counsel for a party is recoverable as is the disbursement.  The interest charge flows from the necessity of the litigation.  If the disbursement itself can be assessed as an appropriate disbursement, so also can the interest owing as a result of the failure or inability of a party to pay for the service provided.  In order to obtain the M.R.I., it was necessary to pay not only the $975.00 cost but also the interest on any unpaid balances that were not paid immediately.  The cost plus interest was the cost of obtaining the M.R.I.  The claim for interest should have been allowed.

This judgement is a welcome development for people advancing personal injury claims in BC as the Court’s reasoning provides greater certainty that successful Plaintiffs can recover interest charged on reasonable disbursements incurred in the course of litigation.

BC Injury Litigation – An Expensive Business


Ask any personal injury lawyer in BC and they will tell you that Injury Claim prosecution can be a very expensive business.
The greatest expense associated with this type of litigation involves the services of expert witnesses.  It is very rare to prosecute an injury claim without hiring at least one expert to address issues such as diagnosis of injury, cause of injury, prognosis and future care needs.  Medical experts cost money and these expenses are usually paid by Plaintiffs lawyers up front.
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, demonstrating just how expensive the services of expert witnesses can be.
In today’s case (Hamo v. Khan) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2001 BC Motor Vehicle Accident.  After the accident the Plaintiff started to suffer from collapsing spells.  The Plaintiff’s lawyer retained Dr. Hurwitz who is trained as both a psychiatrist and a neurologist to provide an opinion with respect to the relationship of the collapsing spells to the trauma.  Dr. Hurwitz generated two reports and billed the Plaintiff’s lawyer $69,543 for his services.
The parties to the lawsuit could not agree whether this expense was reasonable and the matter was brought before the BC Supreme Court.  Ultimately Registrar Blok held that the disbursement as presented was not reasonable and considerably reduced the amount recoverable for the disbursement associated with Dr. Hurwitz’s services.  In addressing this disbursement Registrar Blok provided the following useful reasons:

[47] I conclude that the time spent on the summarizing of the collateral medical information was excessive; in fact, vastly excessive, particularly given that a fair amount of the pertinent history seems to have been summarized elsewhere in the reports.  I also agree that, based on Dr. Hurwitz’s own evidence, in the case of the first report there was inefficiency as a result of the lengthy time it took to complete the process.

[48] As Master Joyce made clear in Cloutier v. Wong, and also as stated in Chandi v. Atwell, there is simply no need to prepare meticulous summaries of medical information obtained from other sources.  I accept that there was a need for Dr. Hurwitz to read and fully absorb this other medical information, but there was no need to do it in this expensive and time-consuming way.  If that is the only way Dr. Hurwitz can accomplish this task then that is all very well as between Dr. Hurwitz and counsel who retain him, but for the purposes of costs between party and party it is excessive and that excessive element cannot be passed on to the opposing party.

[49] I turn now to the hourly rate.  This was the subject of much debate, mostly on the significance of the B.C.M.A. fee schedule, which at present has a guideline fee of $356 per hour for “court preparation” and a fee of $1,495 for preparation of a “medico-legal opinion”.  The defendant did not rely on the “medico-legal opinion” guideline fee (and here I note that the defendant’s own experts did not appear to adhere to it) but did rely on the court preparation fee as providing guidance when considering the $500 per hour rate charged by Dr. Hurwitz.  For her part the plaintiff cited Mohr v. Dent (1983), 40 C.P.C. 8 (B.C.S.C.), where the court said that the B.C.M.A. fee schedule was a guide to the medical profession and had “nothing to do with what is a proper fee for an unsuccessful defendant to pay” (at para. 62).

[50] Both submissions are correct, in their way.  The B.C.M.A. fee schedule is not determinative of the proper amount that ought to be allowed as a disbursement but, as was noted in Moore v. Dhillon, [1992] B.C.J. 3055 (S.C.), it is “of some assistance … to know what the medical profession, in this province, views as a fair, and, presumably, competitive rate, for that particular service” (at para. 212).

[51] In my experience the B.C.M.A. fee schedule can be somewhat helpful in more straightforward cases, but as the cases become more complicated and the medical experts more specialized or accomplished its utility is much less.  Of more relevance, in my view, is the $375 hourly rate charged to the defendant by Dr. Davis, a psychiatrist, who although he does not have a dual specialty in psychiatry and neurology like Dr. Hurwitz, does have a postgraduate specialist degree in both disciplines.  I accept that, all other things being equal, Dr. Hurwitz could rightly charge a higher hourly rate than Dr. Davis because of his additional specialty, but the question is whether the plaintiff has met the burden of showing that Dr. Hurwitz’s hourly rate ought to be 33% more than that of Dr. Davis.

[52] I should say, because it was argued, that I did not find any assistance in knowing the hourly rate of the neuropsychologist, Dr. Crockett.  His specialty is really quite different than that of the medically-trained experts.

[53] The plaintiff made much of the unique nature of Dr. Hurwitz’s qualifications, and submitted that since he is the only one around with this dual specialty “he is the market”.  But this is circular reasoning which could be used to justify any rate at all (he charges this rate, he is the market, therefore it is the market rate and it is ipso facto reasonable).  It also ignores the alternative avenue of retaining two experts instead of one very expensive expert.  Counsel for the defendant did not advance this argument, but it seems to me that a good case might have been made that the plaintiff ought to be limited in her costs recovery to the possibly cheaper reasonable alternative of retaining two experts.

[54] Although the plaintiff submitted that Dr. Hurwitz’s dual qualifications avoided the “wasteful” alternative of having to retain specialists in two different fields, that argument falls rather abruptly in light of the evidence of the charges of the other medical experts, neurologists Dr. Cameron ($2,182) and Dr. Robinson ($2,500), and psychiatrists Dr. O’Shaughnessy ($2,600) and Dr. Davis ($3,850 for his first report), compared to the $45,000 (exclusive of GST) charged by Dr. Hurwitz for his first report.

[55] For these reasons I have concluded that the plaintiff has not met the burden of showing that Dr. Hurwitz’s hourly rate is reasonable.  Doing the best I can on the evidence available I am satisfied that an hourly rate of $425 is a reasonable one in all the circumstances.

[56] For the first report I conclude that fees of $18,000 (plus GST) are appropriate.  In general, this reflects my conclusions on the hourly rate, the unproductive and unnecessary clinical records summaries (though accepting and allowing for time that had to be spent reviewing those records) and the element of inefficiency due to the lengthy report-creating process, while accepting the time spent on the examination of the plaintiff and related interviews (that is, all the time spent prior to February 16, 2005) and the time that was shown to have been spent on the actual preparation of the report.

[57] For the second report I would allow fees of $9,800, plus GST, based in general on the elimination of the time spent on the records summaries (while allowing for time to have been spent reviewing those records) and the reduction in the hourly rate.

[58] The trial preparation charges I would allow at $936.25, based solely on the reduction in the hourly rate.  For some reason GST was not included in the subject invoice and therefore GST is not to be added to this disbursement.

[59] I disallow the “administration and processing” charges included in the first two accounts.  While it may be an interesting debate whether these charges should be disallowed because they are part of overhead (as they usually are with lawyers’ bills) or may be charged in addition (which, for reasons unknown, is by case authority allowable for receivers and bankruptcy trustees), I leave the answer to that question for another time because in this case there is no (or at least, insufficient) evidence to show what Dr. Hurwitz’s actual costs were or the relationship between the round-figure charges of $500 and $250 and his actual costs.

Lawyers Hiring Lawyers – A Reasonable Disbursement?

(Please note the case discussed in the below article was overturned by the BC Court of Appeal.  You can find my summary of the Appeal Judgement here)
Very interesting reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court dealing with the recovery of legal fees after a BC Personal Injury Lawsuit.  Before getting into the facts of this case, however, some brief background is necessary.
Generally speaking when a party sues and succeeds in a BC Supreme Court lawsuit he/she is entitled to Court “Costs” which compensate the successful party for having to go through the hassle of a formal lawsuit.
These “costs” have nothing to do with the party’s actual lawyer fees, rather they are set by a Tarriff and the amount of costs the party is entitled to is generally tied to the number of steps they took in the lawsuit.  In addition to ‘costs’ a successful litigant is entitled to claim reasonable disbursements (money spent on advancing the case such as court filing fees, expert witness costs etc.).
Interesting reasons for judgement were released today dealing with whether a litigant’s actual expense for hiring a lawyer could be recovered after a lawsuit.  The general answer to this question is no, however, on the unique facts of this case the Plaintiff was entitled to recover the actual costs of hiring one of his lawyers as a disbursement.
In today’s case  (Baiden v. Manji et al) the Plaintiff sued various defendants for personal injuries.  Before the matter could proceed to trial the Defendant’s raised a “s. 10 WCB Defence”.   A section 10 defence, when successful, prevents a plaintiff from suing in court where the Plaintiff is injured while acting within the scope and course  of his/her employment and the at fault entity is also a person or employer that caused the accident in the course of their employment.  In these circumstances the Plaintiff must turn to WCB for compensation.
Once this defence is raised, BC Courts cannot deal with its merits rather under s. 257 of the Workers Compensation Act the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) has the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the status of parties to a legal action.  This is frustrating to Plaintiffs because if this defence is pursued the lawsuit is basically put on hold, a hearing has to be had at WCAT, and only if the defence fails at WCAT can the Plaintiff carry on with their lawsuit.
In today’s case this is exactly what happened.  The Plaintiff had to go through with a WCAT hearing before his lawsuit was heard in court.  In doing so the Plaintiff hired a second lawyer to deal with the WCAT.   His legal bill for this second lawyer came to $8,400.
The s. 10 defence did not succeed and the WCAT found that “the injuries to the plaintiff did not arise out of and int he course of his employment”.  The Plaintiff then proceeded to trial.  At the end of trial the Plaintiff asked the Court to allow the $8,400 as a disbursement.  Mr. Justice Chamberlist concluded that this was a reasonable disbursement and allowed the Plaintiff to recover this cost.  Specifically the Court reasoned as follows:

I am of the view that having reviewed the legislation applicable to hearings before WCAT that this is a situation where it is necessary that specialist counsel be hired to deal with the issue.

[22]         The Act discloses, through various sections, that the appeal tribunal is not a court of law like the Supreme Court of British Columbia…

[24]         These very simple observations exemplify the difference between proceedings in the Supreme Court of British Columbia and proceedings under the Workers Compensation Act.

[25]         As a result, I find attendances before the Workers’ Compensation Board and WCAT would be quite different from appearing in court and, as such, represent a need for specialization. …

As I have indicated above, a lawyer may be very competent in Supreme Court where he or she has been taught and practised the importance of legal precedent and is familiar with the rules of admissibility of evidence.  Section 246.1 and s. 250 of the Act obviously disclose some of the differences in appearing before WCAT and appearing before the Supreme Court….

it is not always the case that a disbursement for legal fees paid to another lawyer and reasonably incurred will be disallowed.  Experienced litigators should leave nothing to chance. …

[39]         The fact is that only after some years that Mr. Ward had been counsel for the plaintiff was s. 10 of the WCA brought into issue.  The affidavit filed by the plaintiff discloses that Mr. Ward had never before dealt with the WCAT.

[40]         I have reviewed the various submissions made to WCAT as set out in the affidavit of Karin Reinhold, along with the decision of WCAT, and I find that the retention of Mr. Ishkanian to act for the plaintiff before WCAT was reasonably incurred at the time and the account is reasonable.

[41]         The sum of $8,400.00 is allowed as a disbursement in this action.

BC Personal Injury Claims and the Cost of Litigation

Personal Injury Claims can be very expensive to prosecute.  There are many typical expenses involved such as court filing fees, process servers, administrative expenses and the costs associated with gathering relevant information and documents.  However, by and far the greatest expenses associated with prosecuting a Personal Injury Claim are expert witness fees.
Expert witnesses play a role in almost every Personal Injury and ICBC Injury Claim.  Typical expert witnesses include family physicians, treating therapists such as chiropractors and physiotherapists, specialist physicians such as orthopaedic surgeons and physical medicine doctors.  In serious cases where the effects of the injury are permanent often times economists, future cost of care experts and vocational consultants are retained as well.
All of the above professionals are entitled to charge for their involvement as an expert witness in an ICBC Injury Claim and these costs can be significant.  Reasons for judgement were released yesterday (Narvaez v. Zhang) illustrating just how expensive an expert witness can be in a case involving serious injuries.
In yesterdays case the Plaintiff suffered a serious brain injury as a result of a 2004 collision when she was struck as a pedestrian in Richmond, BC.  The case settled before trial for $850,000 plus costs and disbursements.  One of the disbursements incurred by the Plaintiff’s lawyer was associated with expert witness reports by a well respected economist.  
The economist had to prepare ‘several different future income loss assessments and different cost of future care calculations in order to show losses based on (various) plans‘.  In preparing these reports the economist charged about $10,600.
The Defendants refused to pay this account in the settlement claiming it was excessive.  A motion was brought before Registrar Blok of the BC Supreme Court to determine whether this expense was reasonable in the prosecution of the injury claim.  In concluding that this was a reasonable expense Registrar Blok found as follows:

[19]            Here, the question of what the plaintiff had intended as a career path was very much in dispute: in one version of the evidence the plaintiff was going to train as a registered nurse and move to the United States and in another version she would achieve lesser credentials (e.g., licensed practical nurse) and probably would not be able to emigrate to the U.S.  There was evidence going both ways.  The evidence of the plaintiff’s U.S. immigration plan was not fanciful or unreasonably speculative (in which case the cost might be properly disallowed), and there was a reasonable basis to argue that her examination for discovery admission ought not to be accepted at face value.  A registrar considering whether a disbursement was necessarily or properly incurred need only decide that there was a sufficient basis to incur the cost of a disbursement relating to a certain claim; it is not the role of the registrar to decide whether that claim would have succeeded.

[20]            For these reasons I conclude that the evidence supporting the claimed disbursement is admissible and that it was reasonable for plaintiff’s counsel to have asked the economist to provide opinion evidence on U.S.-based scenarios.

[21]            The defendants also argue that the scope of the economist’s reports is excessive in that he was asked to opine on six different scenarios in circumstances where it would have been sufficient to set out just a couple of the more likely scenarios and to then provide a multiplier for the jury to use (for this was to have been a jury trial) to assess damages for any other scenarios the jury concluded would be most likely.  Similarly, the economist was also asked to do six different scenarios for the cost of future care (as distinct from future income loss) and, again, the defendants argue that a multiplier and a table would have been sufficient for the purpose.

[22]            In reply, the plaintiff noted that the economist was asked to do more than provide mere arithmetic, he was asked to compile statistical information on earnings of registered nurses both in Canada and the U.S., the earnings of licensed practical nurse and residential care aides, the likely amount of her residual earnings (that is, her likely earnings given her cognitive impairment) and to prepare projections of lost earnings for those positions using two different start years.  As for the cost of future care, had the situation been straightforward (e.g., based on predictable costs that would be incurred in each and every year) it might have been appropriate to have a multiplier with a table or two, but in this case some of the care items were intermittent or temporary, and some were based on possibilities that she would require more extensive care later in life.  It was thus submitted that it would not be reasonable to expect a jury to use a multiplier or table in a fashion that would properly address these cost variations.

[23]            I have reviewed the reports and accounts of the economist in some detail and conclude that in the circumstances of this particular case it was proper for counsel to ask the economist to set out his opinion on future income loss and future care costs using the different scenarios he did.  There were several employment possibilities for the plaintiff and she might either have ended up in the United States or stayed in Canada, and there was the question of the income that she was now capable of earning in her impaired state.  Similarly, for the cost of future care I conclude that it was reasonable for counsel to set out relatively understandable numbers for presentation to a jury in light of the fact that a number of the future care items were uncertain, intermittent or temporary.  I do not think it inappropriate to conclude that a jury might have difficulty using a mere multiplier or table in light of these sorts of complications.

[24]            In the result, I allow in full the amounts claimed for the costs of the economist’s reports.

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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