Tag: Madam Justice Adair

Police Officer Not Negligent For Crash While Running Red Light in Course of Duties

While operators of emergency don’t enjoy complete immunity when running a red light in the course of their duties, they do enjoy a statutory right of way to disobey traffic controls in appropriate circumstances.  Reasons for judgment were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, clearing a police officer from fault following such a collision.
In the recent case (Singh v. British Columbia (Public Safety)) the Plaintiff entered an intersection on a green light.  At the same time the Defendant officer, who was responding to a call of a man with a knife threatening a child, ran a red light while responding to the call.  A crash occurred and the Plaintiff sued for damages.  The claim was ultimately dismissed with the Court finding that the Plaintiff was negligent and the officer properly entered the intersection within the scope of her duties.  In exculpating the officer of fault Madam Justice Adair provided the following reasons:
[68]         Constable Parrish testified that her siren was activated when she approached and was at the intersection of Scott Road and 96th Avenue.  She explained when and how she activated her siren.  She explained how the siren is activated by pressing a button, and that, once the siren button is pressed and the siren is turned on, it remains on until the button is pressed again.  She explained that she reactivated the siren after speaking with her dispatcher, and that she had it activated as she travelled down 96th Avenue towards the intersection with Scott Road.  Her explanations were logical, appropriately detailed and consistent with the circumstances in which Constable Parrish was operating.
[69]         I find that when Constable Parrish arrived at the intersection of Scott Road and 96th Avenue, both the emergency lights and the siren on her vehicle were activated, and they remained activated when she proceeded into the intersection.  I accept Constable Parrish’s evidence in this regard.  Her evidence is supported by and consistent with the evidence of Constable Lucic and also Mr. Barros (whose evidence was unchallenged).  The conclusion that both the emergency lights and siren were activated is not contradicted by the evidence of Mr. Deol or Mr. Chand, which I find to be equivocal.  Moreover, I conclude that, on this point, Mr. Singh does not accurately recall the events.
[70]         I conclude, therefore, that, at the intersection, Constable Parrish had the right of way, and Mr. Singh was obliged to yield to her.
[71]         I find further that Constable Parrish had reasonable grounds to believe that, at the relevant time, the risk of harm to members of the public from the exercise of the privileges under s. 122(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act was less than the risk of harm to members of the public (namely, the child threatened with harm) if those privileges were not exercised….
[78]         I find that Constable Parrish was proceeding cautiously across the intersection, with her emergency lights and siren activated, and her conduct was consistent with that of a reasonable officer acting reasonably and within the statutory powers (and duties) imposed on her in the circumstances on September 12, 2007.  In my view, she was entitled to assume that Mr. Singh would yield the right of way to her.

The Duty of Lawyers to "Investigate" Litigants Social Media Use

It is well established that social media postings and other electronic ‘records’ can be relevant in injury litigation.  Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this and discussing litigant’s duties to canvass these documents in the course of litigation.
In  last week’s case (Ahadi v. Valdez) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 collision.  In the course of her trial an e-mail which was not previously disclosed was put to a witness. This led to a delay of the trial with further discovery taking place.   Madam Justice Adair provided the following comments addressing this development:
[154]     The defendants argue that Ms. Ahadi’s failure, prior to trial, to disclose all relevant electronic documents demonstrates a general lack of honesty on her part.  The problem relating to discovery of electronic documents was discovered on the third day of trial, when Mr. Marcoux showed e-mail communications to a witness (Ms. Betty Chow, Ms. Ahadi’s boss when she was working at Shoppers Drug Mart) that had not previously been disclosed to the defendants.  Mr. Marcoux acknowledged that he had received the e-mail communications from Ms. Ahadi shortly before the trial began.  An order was then made concerning production of electronic documents, and Ms. Ahadi was required to submit to further oral examination for discovery.  This turn of events was very unfortunate, and made an already stressful experience (the trial) even more so.  It was also completely avoidable, if only appropriate inquiries had been made by Ms. Ahadi’s solicitors prior to trial concerning the existence and location of relevant and producible electronic documents.  Court had to be adjourned early on the third day of trial, after the issues concerning Ms. Ahadi’s electronic documents had been uncovered and during Ms. Ahadi’s examination-in-chief, because Ms. Ahadi felt unable to continue in the circumstances.
[155]     The defendants argue that, because of the circumstances surrounding production by Ms. Ahadi of electronic documents and the conflicts in her evidence concerning the location of electronic documents in her home, I should give no weight to either Ms. Ahadi’s evidence at trial or her self-reports to the various experts.  The defendants say that anything less would be unjust to them.  They also argue that I should draw an adverse inference against Ms. Ahadi.
[156]     I do not agree. 
[157]     In my opinion, it does not follow from what happened concerning discovery by Ms. Ahadi of electronic documents that I should give no weight to her evidence generally.  Ms. Ahadi’s solicitors need to accept at least some of the responsibility for what occurred.  Prior to trial, they should have investigated the existence of relevant electronic documents much more thoroughly than they did.  Had they made a proper and thorough investigation, Ms. Ahadi’s solicitors could have avoided placing their client in the uncomfortable position in which she found herself on the third day of trial.  Defendants’ counsel also had the opportunity to pursue the matter of electronic documents (such as Facebook postings and e-mail), when Ms. Ahadi was examined for discovery some nine months before the trial, but they did not.  In my view, Ms. Ahadi’s evidence should be assessed looking at all of the relevant factors.  The court can accept some, all or none of the evidence of a witness.

"Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Kangaroo Court" Comments Strip Successful litigant of Costs

Update – July 22, 2013the below action was overturned on appeal with the Defendant being ordered to pay general damages, punitive damages and special costs due to his “misconduct during the trial
Earlier this year I highlighted a judgement addressing whether a litigant blogging about witnesses during the course of a trial, and referenceing ‘fat bottomed girls’ in the process, amounted to witness intimidation.
Reasons for judgement were released today (Mainstream Canada v. Staniford) by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with the costs consequences following the underlying trial.
Ultimately the Plaintiff’s defamation claim against the Defendant was dismissed.  The Defendant would ordinarily be awarded his costs and disbursements under the BC Supreme Court’s ‘loser pays’ system.   Madam Justice Adair refused to follow this ordinary course, however, finding that the Defendant’s conduct during the trial was ‘deserving of rebuke‘ and ultimately stripped him of 75% of the costs he otherwise would be entitled to.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
 [5]             The general rule is stated in Rule 14-1(9) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules:  “costs of a proceeding must be awarded to the successful party unless the court otherwise orders.”  Thus, Rule 14-1(9) continues to confirm the residual discretion of the court to deny, on a principled basis, a successful party the costs to which it would otherwise be entitled:  see LeClair v. Mibrella Inc., 2011 BCSC 533 (“LeClair”), at para. 9.  Where the successful party has engaged in misconduct, the outcome of the litigation is irrelevant, and the court has the power to deprive the successful party of costs…
8]             The discretion conveyed to a judge under Rule 14-1(9) is extremely broad:  see LeClair, at para. 30…
[12]         I described some of Mr. Staniford’s conduct in my Reasons for Judgment as follows, at paras. 88-92:
[88]      . . . During the trial, Mr. Staniford relaunched the GAAIA website, this time using a service provider outside of Canada.  During his cross-examination, Mr. Staniford proclaimed that he would not be stopped by an injunction pronounced in this action.
[89]      Shortly before the trial, and after the witness lists had been exchanged, Mr. Staniford accused the Ahousaht First Nation of accepting “blood money” from Cermaq in one of his Facebook postings. 
[90]      Mr. Staniford looked on the trial as an opportunity to get his message out, and he did not hold back.  For example, in Internet postings during the trial, Mr. Staniford demeaned and mocked the physical appearance of three of Mainstream’s witnesses, Mary Ellen Walling, Leanne Brunt and Dr. Gallo.  Mr. Wotherspoon brought the comments concerning Ms. Walling and Ms. Brunt to my attention when court was convened the morning of January 26, 2012.  The matter was discussed in court and was framed (appropriately) as an issue of Mr. Staniford victimizing Mainstream’s witnesses by his insulting comments.  Mr. Staniford was present during the discussion.  Despite that, Mr. Staniford then repeated his comments about Ms. Walling and Ms. Brunt outside court for an interview that was published on YouTube.
[91]      During his testimony, Mr. Staniford attempted to justify his comments about Ms. Walling and Ms. Brunt as being “very complimentary,” and said he thought Ms. Walling should be “flattered” at being labelled a “fat-bottomed girl.”  The notion that Mr. Staniford would ever pay a sincere compliment to Ms. Walling is, itself, laughable and entirely unbelievable. 
[92]      In another Facebook posting during the first week of the trial, he compared the trial to a kangaroo court….
[15]         By engaging in the conduct I described, Mr. Staniford demonstrated his disrespect for witnesses and his disdain generally for the court and the judicial process. 
[16]         Mr. Staniford’s flagrant disregard of my comments during the discussion on January 26, 2012 concerning his victimization of witnesses and in my ruling (indexed at 2012 BCSC 1609) is particularly troubling.  His YouTube interview shortly after my ruling is roughly equivalent to giving the court “the finger,” as he did to Mainstream and its lawyers in response to their demand letter.  Mr. Staniford’s attitude (as expressed during his cross-examination) seemed to be that since Lord Denning’s comments (which I adopted) had been made in the early 1960s, they did not apply to him and he could ignore them.  Once again, Mr. Staniford demonstrated that he is a bad listener.  His repetition in court, and under oath, of his ridiculous justification for his sexist and puerile comments about Ms. Walling and Ms. Brunt – that the comments were complimentary and flattering – insulted the intelligence of anyone who had to listen to it. …
[20]         Although I consider Mr. Staniford’s misconduct in connection with the trial to be serious and clearly deserving of censure, I think that depriving the defendants of all of their costs of the action is too severe, given the dollar amounts likely involved for a 20-day trial.  I have concluded that an appropriate order is that the defendants have 25% of their assessed costs and disbursements.  (There should be only one set of costs for both defendants.)  Depriving the defendants of 75% of their assessed costs and disbursements, in my view, reflects appropriate condemnation of Mr. Staniford’s misconduct.

$60,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Grade II Soft Tissue Injury

Adding to this site’s archived posts documenting BC soft tissue injury non-pecuniary assessments, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry, dealing with a chronic Grade II Whiplash Injury.
In this week’s case (Strazza v. Ryder) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 rear-end collision.  He suffered soft tissue damage to his neck and mid back.  His symptoms of pain, while “not debilitating” continued to the time of trial and caused him to reduce or modify his daily activities   His symptoms were expected to linger into the future.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $60,000 Madam Justice Adair provided the following reasons:
[67]         Mr. Strazza himself reports that he continues to experience pain.  It is not debilitating, and Mr. Strazza has not claimed that it is.  It has not prevented him from working or doing household chores or working on his car.  As Mr. Strazza describes it, he can basically do everything he did before the accident, but with pain.  Mr. Strazza describes his situation as one where he works and carries on despite his pain symptoms, which he does his best to alleviate by taking over-the-counter medications or by calling on someone to help.  As a result of his pain symptoms, Mr. Strazza has modified some of his activities, both leisure and work-related, since the accident.  Friends – Ms. Miller and Ms. Goalder – gave evidence of their observations in this respect, and their evidence supported Mr. Strazza’s.  The changes in Mr. Strazza are not drastic, but they are changes nevertheless…
[72]         More generally, I found Mr. Strazza to be forthright and a credible witness.  He spoke plainly and did not exaggerate.  He had no difficulty and no hesitation conceding points that were not necessarily in his favour, for example, that working for Madill was just not for him.  On cross-examination, Mr. Strazza was the opposite of defensive or argumentative, which allowed the cross-examination (by very experienced counsel) to proceed smoothly and efficiently.
[73]         I therefore find that, as a result of the accident, Mr. Strazza sustained soft tissue injuries to his cervical spine and his thoracic spine.  Specifically, and as set out in Dr. MacKean’s February 8, 2012 report, I find that Mr. Strazza sustained a grade II whiplash associated disorder in the cervical spine, which (as of trial) was resolving and a grade II whiplash associated disorder in his thoracic spine with residual pain and muscle spasm involving the left mid to lower thoracic region.  Based on Mr. Strazza’s evidence (supported by the evidence from Ms. Miller and Ms. Goalder), he continues to experience some pain as a result of his injuries.  I therefore find, based on this evidence and the opinion evidence from Dr. MacKean, that Mr. Strazza’s pain symptoms will probably not resolve completely, although they can be improved with a regular exercise program and pain relief can be obtained through occasional use of over-the-counter medication…
[81]         Taking into account Mr. Strazza’s age, the effect of Mr. Strazza’s injuries on his day-to-day activities and on his lifestyle in general, including on his career goals, Dr. MacKean’s prognosis that the pain is unlikely to resolve completely, and the cases that have been cited to me, I assess Mr. Strazza’s non-pecuniary damages at $60,000.

"Fat Bottomed Girls": When Free Speech and Alleged Witness 'Victimization' Collide in the BC Supreme Court

This is a little off topic but thought this may be of interest for my readers.
Trials are a matter of public record and Canada’s open-court principle can sometimes create legitimate privacy concerns for litigants.  The BC Supreme Court published reasons for judgement today addressing such a concern.
In today’s case (Mainstream Canada v. Staniford) a blog entry was posted during a trial referring to two witnesses who testified that “It is not clear if they both cycled to the courtroom – but there were echoes of Queen’s classic 1978 hit “Fat-Bottomed Girls” playing as they both took the stand.
The Plaintiff’s lawyer brought an application for a direction that the Defendant “refrain from making postings referring to witnesses in any derogatory or disparaging fashion that may have the effect of victimizing a witness or witnesses who are testifying, or may have testified, at this trial.”  Madam Justice Adair refused to make such an order but in doing so provided the following reminder to the litigants:
[7]             I am going to quote from Lord Denning’s judgment in the case of Attorney-General v. Butterworth, [1962] 3 All E.R. 326 (C.A.).  This is a decision of the English Court of Appeal.  It is from 1962.  But in my view it is still well worth quoting, and well worth reminding counsel, parties and those present in this courtroom, concerning issues relating to the administration of justice and the appropriate and fair treatment of witnesses who come forward, often under the compulsion of a subpoena, to give evidence and perform their civic duty in a trial.
[8]             Lord Denning says (in the context of ruling on an application that individuals be found in contempt of court), at p. 329:
For there can be no greater contempt than to intimidate a witness before he gives his evidence or to victimize him afterwards for having given it.  How can we expect a witness to give his evidence freely and frankly, as he ought to do, if he is liable, as soon as the case is over, to be punished for it by those who dislike the evidence he had given?  After he has honestly given his evidence, is he to be liable to be dismissed from his office, or to be sent to Coventry [a reference that perhaps had more resonance in 1962 than it does now, but essentially meaning banished or punished] simply because of that evidence which he has given?  I decline to believe that the law of England permits him to be so treated.  If this sort of thing could be done in a single case with impunity, the news of it would soon get round.  Witnesses in other cases would be unwilling to come forward to give evidence, or, if they did come forward, they would hesitate to speak the truth, for fear of the consequences.
[9]             Further down at p. 329, Lord Denning says:
I have no hesitation in declaring that the victimization of a witness is a contempt of court whether it be done whilst the proceedings are still pending or after they have finished.
[10]         In my view, it is clear from Lord Denning’s remarks that the court takes the intimidation or the victimization of a witness extremely seriously and is willing to use its contempt powers to punish that conduct.
[11]         Having said that, in the light of the submissions made by Mr. Sutherland concerning the live issues in this case relating to the conduct of Mr. Staniford – his conduct of the case inside and outside the court – I am not going to give the direction sought by Mr. Wotherspoon.  However, my expectation is that the parties and those present in this courtroom will take very seriously Lord Denning’s comments which I have read out and which I adopt.

Punishing Costs Orders Should Not "Unduly Deter" Meritorious but Uncertain Actions

Further to my previous posts detailing the potential costs consequences following trials with formal settlement offers in place, reasons for judgement were released last week addressing this topic finding that costs consequences should be applied in an “even-handed” way and further should not unduly deter Plaintiff’s from bringing meritorious, but uncertain claims “because of the fear of a punishing costs order“.
In last week’s case (Currie v. McKinnon) the Plaintiff sustained soft tissue injuries in a collision which substantially recovered within one year.  Prior to trial ICBC made a formal settlement offer of $40,000.  The Plaintiff rejected this offer and proceeded to trial where he was awarded $22,000 in damages.
ICBC applied for double costs from the time of the offer onward.  Madam Justice Adair found that such a result was unwarranted and instead stripped the Plaintiff of post offer costs and disbursements.   In doing so the Court provided the following sensible comments:

[18] I think it certainly can be argued that if a defendant who has made an offer to settle in an amount higher than the amount awarded to the plaintiff at trial (and that is what has been done in this case) was then awarded double costs, this would skew the procedure in favour of defendants and unfairly penalize and pressure plaintiffs.  This is because a plaintiff who rejected an offer to settle would potentially risk a triple cost penalty if he or she were to win at trial an amount less than the offer.  The plaintiff would suffer loss of the costs that he or she would normally receive on obtaining judgment at trial, and face double costs payable to the defendant.

[19] In my view, there is a good reason to apply Rule 9-1 in a way that is even-handed, or more even-handed, as between plaintiffs and defendants.  I would say for this reason one would expect to see double costs awarded to a defendant, using the offer to settle procedure, in exceptional circumstances only, such as a situation where the plaintiff’s claim was dismissed all together after a plaintiff rejected an offer to settle.

[20] That is not the case here.  In my view, Mr. McKechnie, despite his able arguments, simply did not identify for me how the circumstances here were so exceptional as to justify an award of double costs against Mr. Currie.  While the purpose of the Rule is to encourage reasonable settlements, parties should not be unduly deterred from bringing meritorious, but uncertain, claims because of the fear of a punishing costs order…

[36] Having considered all of the factors in this case, I am not satisfied that it would be appropriate to award the defendants double costs as sought by Mr. McKechnie.  I have discussed earlier in these reasons my concerns about how that can have the effect of skewing the procedure in favour of defendants and unfairly pressurize and penalize plaintiffs, and I think that would be the result in this case.  Liability was admitted by the defendants.  Mr. Currie’s case was not dismissed.  Rather, he recovered judgment for non-pecuniary damages in an amount that was greater than what the defendants argued at trial he should recover.

[37] However, in my view, the defendants’ offer to settle cannot be ignored.  That would undermine the purpose behind the rule…

[39] In my view, therefore, the double costs sought by the defendants are neither a fair nor just result.  However, in my view, it is not a fair or just result for Mr. Currie to recover costs after he had had a reasonable opportunity with his counsel to review and consider the defendants’ offer to settle.  I would say that by November 30, 2011, Mr. Currie and his counsel had had a reasonable opportunity to review and consider the defendants’ offer and ask any questions they deemed necessary if they thought clarification was necessary.

[40] In my view, the defendants should not have to pay Mr. Currie’s costs after November 30, 2011.  However, I do not think it a fair result that Mr. Currie should have to pay the defendants’ costs after November 30, 20011, given his success ultimately at trial.

[41] My order then, with respect to costs, is that Mr. Currie will recover his costs and disbursements up to and including November 30, 2011, and that each side bear their own costs thereafter.

Treating Experts, Formal Requirements and a Sensible Use of Discretion

I’ve previously shared my views about the technical requirements of the BC Supreme Court Rules as they relate to expert opinion reports and the fact that Courts should be flexible with these requirements as they relate to treating physicians.  Useful reasons for judgement were released last week dealing with a non-compliant report but ultimately allowing the report to be entered into evidence noting the shortcomings were better addressed by weight, not admissibility.
In last week’s case (Currie v. McKinnon) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 rear-end collision.  In the course of trial the Plaintiff introduced a report that failed to comply with the Rules of Court.  In exercising discretion under Rule 11-7(6) to allow the report in despite its non-compliance Madam Justice Adair provided the following short but useful comments:

[39] Dr. Rawson’s report is dated August 1, 2008.  No real attempt had been made to comply with Rule 11-6(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules (or even Rule 40A of the former Rules) in relation to the form and content of her report.  The report failed to set out the factual assumptions on which Dr. Rawson’s opinion was based, failed to set out the documents on which she relied in forming her opinion and, generally, failed to set out the reasons for her opinion.

[40] Accordingly, Mr. McKechnie (on behalf of the defendants) objected to the admissibility of Dr. Rawson’s report.  In the result, I ruled that the report would be admitted, and the defects in the report would go to weight.

The Other Side of the "Low Velocity Impact" Coin

I’ve written many times about the so-called “low velocity impact” defence where Defendants argue that a crash with little vehicle damage can create only minimal (or perhaps no) injuries and compensation should be accordingly modest.  These arguments have been soundly defeated many times in Court.
The other side of the equation, however, holds equally true.  Just because a collision results in severe vehicle damage does not mean that a severe injury occurred.  It is the severity of injury, not the severity of impact, that really matters.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court addressing this.
In this week’s case (Currie v. McKinnon) the Plaintiff was involved in a fairly significant collision.  He was injured in the crash.  In support of his submissions for damages the Plaintiff stressed that this was “a very serious accident” involving “high speed”.  The Court noted that these facts are of little consequence.  In addressing the ‘serious accident’ submissions Madam Justice Adair provided the following comments:

[67] There is no dispute that Mr. Currie suffered some injuries in the accident.  Mr. Currie’s position is that he continues as of trial to suffer the effects of those injuries.  The defendants’ position is that the injuries suffered in the accident were relatively minor and had resolved within a short period.  The defendants say that, to the extent Mr. Currie continues to experience symptoms – particularly neck and back pain – as of trial, those symptoms are unrelated to the accident and are not caused by injuries suffered in the accident.

[68] Mr. Dahlgren, on behalf of Mr. Currie, argues that I should conclude Mr. Currie was seriously injured because he was involved in a “very serious accident,” involving a “high speed” collision and that resulted in substantial property damage.  However, these facts are not necessarily connected in any logical way to the nature and extent of Mr. Currie’s injuries, as Thackray J. (as he then was) pointed out (in a slightly different context) in Gordon v. Palmer (1993), 78 B.C.L.R. (2d) 236, at para. 5:

Significant injuries can be caused by the most casual of slips and falls.  Conversely, accidents causing extensive property damage may leave those involved unscathed.  The presence and extent of injuries are to be determined on the basis of evidence given in court.  Objectivity is thus preserved and the public does not have to concern itself with extraneous philosophies that some would impose on the judicial process.

The Court went on to conclude that the Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries which “substantially recovered” in one year and awarded non-pecuniary damages of $22,000.

ICBC Uninsured Motorist Claims and the Deductibility of WCB Benefits

If a person is injured by the actions of an uninsured motorist in BC they can seek compensation directly from ICBC under section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.
There are certain limitations to section 20 claims and one of these was that ICBC could deduct Workers Compensation Benefits.  This changed by the new section 106 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation which came into force on June 1, 2007.  The new regulation changed the definition of an ‘insured claim‘ that ICBC could deduct as follows:

106 (1)  In this section, “insured claim” means any benefit, compensation similar to benefits, right to indemnity or claim to indemnity accruing to a person entitled to benefits, compensation or indemnity or to the personal representative or guardian of the person, and includes a benefit, compensation, right or claim

(a) under the Workers Compensation Act or a similar law or plan of another jurisdiction, unless

(i)  the insured elects not to claim compensation under section 10 (2) of the Workers Compensation Act and the insured is not entitled to compensation under section 10 (5) of that Act, or

(ii)  the Workers Compensation Board pursues its right of subrogation under section 10 (6) of the Workers Compensation Act

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing whether ICBC could deduct WCB benefits paid when a crash occurred prior to June 1, 2007 but the uninsured claim against ICBC was still on-going after the new Regulation came into force.  In short the Court held that the date of the crash itself does not decide the issue, rather the date that the section 20 claim against ICBC is crystallized does.
In this week’s case (Hicks v. Bieberbach Estate) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 collision.  The opposing motorist was operating a stolen vehicle and was killed in the collision.  Motorists in stolen vehicles are deemed to be uninsured motorists by ICBC.  The Plaintiff initially obtained some compensation from WCB.  The Plaintiff then re-elected his route of compensation and brought a tort claim (apparently with WCB’s approval) against the uninsured motorist’s estate.
ICBC took the position that all the funds paid by WCB were non-recoverable as the crash happened prior to June 1, 2007.  Madam Justice Adair disagreed and found that since the CL-42 (the statutory declaration claimiants need to sign to seek section 20 benefits from ICBC) was not signed until after June 1, 2007 the new regulation applied and ICBC could not deduct the WCB payments from their section 20 obligations.  In reaching this decision the Court provided the following reasons:

[44]         A claimant who is injured by an insured driver and who wishes to make an application to ICBC for damages must do so in the prescribed form:  s. 20(2).  The form prescribed is a statutory declaration, where an applicant must verify facts as if under oath or on affirmation.  I do not see anything in s. 20 to suggest that ICBC “may pay” without having fundamental facts relevant to the claimant’s claim verified by solemn declaration,  as prescribed by the legislation.  On the contrary, the clear implication of s. 20(9) is that it is necessary for a claimant to submit a declaration in Form CL-42 before ICBC “may” pay.  The significance of the word “may pay” (rather than “must pay”) is that, even when a claimant has complied with s. 20 and the regulations, ICBC is notobligated to pay:  see Buxton v. Tang, at para. 7.

[45]         In my view, ICBC’s correspondence dated February 7, 2007, indicates that ICBC requires plaintiff’s counsel to comply with the service and default requirements of s. 20 (see in particular ss. 20(5)(b), (6) and (7)), and, more generally, indicates that ICBC expected Roy Hicks to comply with the section and the regulations before any amount would be paid to him.  This is entirely consistent with s. 20(9).  One of the requirements was that Mr. Hicks complete and submit a CL-42.  Unlike s. 24 of the Act, which requires a claimant to give ICBC notice of a claim within 6 months after the accident but does not specify any form in which the notice must be given, s. 20 specifies the form of notice of a claim, but does not fix a deadline…

[52]         In my opinion, in this case and reading s. 20 as a whole, ICBC was not in a position where it at least “may” pay, until Roy Hicks submitted his CL-42 statutory declaration.  That was the final step Mr. Hicks needed to complete (since service of the writ and defence of the claim by ICBC had been addressed in the fall of 2007) as claimant.  Since the CL-42 statutory declaration was submitted in February 2008, s. 106 of the New Regulation applies…

[54]         In summary, the question posed on the special case is:

Does the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia have the legal authority to deduct Workers’ Compensation Board benefits paid to the Plaintiff from any amount to be paid to the Plaintiff for damages, as a result of settlement or judgment in this matter, taking into account Section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 231 and regulation 106 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act Regulations, or the predecessor to these sections which were repealed on June 1, 2007?

My answer is no.  Section 106 of the New Regulation applies in respect of the plaintiff’s claim.

Lump Sum Costs and the New BC Supreme Court Rules

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Kamloops Registry, finding that the new Civil Rules give the BC Supreme Court the power to award lump sum costs without the need for taxation.  Madam Justice Adair held that this power was not available under the former rules absent party consent.
In today’s case (Madock v. Grauer) the Plaintiffs sued the Defendants for damages.  At trial one of the Defendant’s was ordered to pay $5,000 in damages.  The parties could not agree on the cost consequences that followed and applied to the trial judge to address this issue.   Madam Justice Adair ultimately held that the Plaintiff was entitled to costs and fixed these at $11,000.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons about the ability of trial judges to award lump sum costs:

[47]         Under Rule 14-1(15), “The court may award costs (a) of a proceeding . . . and in awarding those costs the court may fix the amount of costs, including the amount of disbursements.”  This Rule is to be contrasted with its counterpart in the old Rules, Rule 57(13), which provided, and I am going to emphasize the first few words:

With the consent of the parties, the court may fix a lump sum as the costs of the whole proceeding, either inclusive or exclusive of disbursements and expenses.

A key change in the new Rule is that consent of the parties is no longer necessary, before the court can fix lump sum costs.

The Court went on to use the new concept of ‘proportionality‘ and found that this was an appropriate case to order lump sum costs.  Madam Justice Adair provided the following reasons:

[49]         I have concluded that these siblings and Mr. Grauer would not be well-served by having a forum – namely, taxation of costs – in which they can continue to litigate over the late Mr. McKenzie’s estate.  Moreover, prolonging litigation among these parties is, in my opinion, out of all proportion to the amount involved, the importance of the issues in dispute and the complexity of the proceeding.  Rather, it is now time for finality.  The costs consequent on my judgment following the trial must also be in some rational proportion to the amount ultimately recovered, which was $5,000.  The costs – indeed the double costs – that the plaintiffs suggest in their submissions they should be awarded are out of all proportion to what would be reasonable.

[50]         I have therefore concluded that, in this case, orders should be made for lump sum costs under Rule 14-1(15)


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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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