"Marginal Difference" Between Trial Result and ICBC Settlement Offer Results in Full Costs to Plaintiff
Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, awarding a Plaintiff full trial costs after the Plaintiff failed to beat an ICBC settlement offer by a “marginal difference“.
In today’s case (Goguen v. Maddalena) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision the Defendant accepted fault for. The Plaintiff proceeded to trial where he was awarded total damages of $174,360.84.
Prior to trial ICBC made a formal offer to settle for $175,000. The Defendant argued that the Plaintiff should be deprived of some of his post offer costs for failing to beat the settlement attempt. In finding that a “marginal difference” does not warrant such an outcome Madam Justice Forth provided the following reasons:
 The plaintiff submits that the Defendant’s Offer was greater than the judgment amount by only $639.16, or approximately 0.5%. He argues that this marginal difference should afford little weight. In support, the plaintiff cites Saopaseuth v. Phavongkham, 2015 BCSC 45 at para. 74, in which Bernard J. noted that an award 2% greater than an offer to settle “suggests that little weight should be given to this factor”. Furthermore, in Zhao v. Yu, 2015 BCSC 2342 at para. 11, Baker J. held that an offer that exceeded an award by $1,800 was “of little significance in arriving at a decision about costs”.
 The defendant submits that the Defendant’s Offer was only with respect to the plaintiff’s tort claim and that acceptance of the offer would have allowed the plaintiff to collect Part 7 ICBC benefits. Therefore, the Defendant’s Offer exceeds the trial award by a larger margin that what appears on its face.
 The plaintiff, in reply, submits that he understood that any settlement offers made by the defendant were full settlements of both the tort claim and Part 7 claims against ICBC, and that at no time did defence counsel convey that Part 7 benefits would still be available in the event that the Defendant’s Offer was accepted.
 With respect to Part 7 benefits, I note the first page of the Defendant’s Offer reads in part:
The Settlement Payment:
(a) is offered after taking into account Part 7 benefits paid or payable, pursuant to section 25 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231 (in respect of policies in force before June 1, 2007) and/or pursuant to section 83 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231 (in respect of policies in force on or after June 1, 2007);
 Neither counsel have provided submissions on the implications of this settlement term or the quantum of Part 7 benefits that would have likely been available to the plaintiff. As a result, it would be speculative of me to attach significant weight to the submissions on these points.
 Considering the marginal difference between the Defendant’s Offer and the ultimate award, this factor is of little significance in my determination…
 Taken together, the factors pursuant to subrule 9-1(6) weigh in favor of the plaintiff. As a result, I exercise my discretion to award the plaintiff costs pursuant to R 9-1(5)(c). The plaintiff is entitled to his costs at Scale B.