Tag: Mr. Justice Armstrong

More on Responsive Opinion Evidence Admissibility

Reasons for judgement were published recently by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing responsive expert reports and the discretion of the Court to adjourn a trial to permit late expert evidence to be introduced.
In the recent case (Lennox v. Karim) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2003 collision.   87 days prior to trial the Plaintiff served a medico-legal report diagnosing the Plaintiff with a meniscal tear.  The Defendant obtained a report addressing this injury and served it on the Plaintiff.  This report was served in less than 84 days before trail.  The Plaintiff objected arguing this report was late and that it was not truly responsive.  Mr. Justice Armstrong disagreed and admitted the report finding that it was responsive, and if not, the trial should be adjourned to allow admission of the report to address the relatively late disclosure of the meniscal tear.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[38] In this case, Mr. Lennox failed to alert the defendant to the central issue of a torn meniscus. His pleadings indicated an injury of both knees without any reference in specific to the torn meniscus. This is significant in this case, because the plaintiff was under the obligation to obtain a court order to permit Dr. Stewart to testify and if that order had been applied for, the defendant would have been put on notice at an earlier time as to the issue which became central to this case.

[39] In my view the Leith report, in the words of Smith J., is not a freestanding medical opinion that ought to have been served under Rule 11-6(3). It is in its entirety a responsive opinion directed solely to one opinion of Dr. Stewart relating to the plaintiff’s medical condition, that being the torn meniscus…

[42] If I am wrong in this decision, it would have also been my further opinion that in the circumstances of this case the defendant would have otherwise been entitled to an adjournment of the trial to secure the medical report of Dr. Leith if it was not otherwise admissible under 11-6(4). It seems to me that 11-1(2) is purposely directed at requiring the plaintiff and defendant to avoid the last minute introduction of medical evidence in cases which may have proceeded for many years on a different track or a different theory. I note that neither of the experts described in the CPC report have been or are going to be called as witnesses in this case, but I am not required to deal with that issue.

[43] It seems to me that Dr. Leith’s report can simply be admitted and I can ignore those provisions which in my view are not appropriate.

Soft Tissue Injury Damages Round Up – The Kelowna Road Edition


As regular readers of this blog know, I try to avoid ‘round up‘ posts and do my best to provide individual case summaries for BC Supreme Court injury judgements.  Sometimes, however, the volume of decisions coupled with time constraints makes this difficult.  After wrapping up holidays in the lovely City of Kelowna this is one of those times so here is a soft tissue injury round up of recent BC injury caselaw.
In the first case (Olynyk v. Turner) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2008 rear-end collision.  Fault was admitted.    He was 43 at the time and suffered a variety of soft tissue injuries to his neck and back.  His symptoms lingered to the time of trial although the Court found that the Plaintiff unreasonably refused to follow his physicians advise with respect to treatment.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $40,000 (then reduced by 30% to reflect the Plaintiff’s ‘failure to mitigate’) Mr. Justice Barrow provided the following reasons:
[83]I find that Mr. Olynyk suffered a soft tissue injury to his neck and low back. I would describe the former as mild and the later as moderate. There is no necessary correlation between the amount of medication consumed, the frequency of visits to the doctor, or the nature of the attempts to mitigate the effects of one’s injuries and the severity of those injuries and their consequences. There may be many explanations for such a lack of congruity: a person may be particularly stoic or may have an aversion to taking medication for example. On the one hand, in the absence of such an explanation, when there is a significant disconnect between these two things, that can be a reason for treating self reports of pain and limitation with caution…

[87]Given that it is now three years post accident, I am satisfied that Mr. Olynyk’s pain is likely permanent, although as Mr. Olynyk told Dr. Laidlow in the fall of 2011, his symptoms improved in the years since the accident, inasmuch as his level of pain declined as did the frequency of more significant episodes. Leaving aside the issue of his pre-existing back problems, and in view of the authorities referred to above, I consider that an award of non-pecuniary damages of $40,000 is appropriate. In reaching this conclusion, I have taken account of the dislocation that the plaintiff’s loss of employment has caused him. That loss is greater than the mere loss of income that it occasioned and for which separate compensation is in order. The plaintiff had to move to a different community to take a job that he was physically able to do. That is a matter of some consequence.

[88]The next issue is the effect of the plaintiff’s pre-existing back problems. According to Dr. Laidlow because of the plaintiff’s spondylolisthesis, and given the heavy nature of his work, he likely would have experienced back problems similar to those he now experiences in 10 years even if he had not been involved in an accident.

[89]As noted above, such future risks or contingencies are taken into account through a combination of their likely effect and the relative likelihood of them coming to pass (Athey at para. 27). I find that there was a 60 percent likelihood that Mr. Olynyk would experience the same symptoms he now experiences in 10 years in any event. It is not appropriate to reduce the award for general damages by 60 percent to account for that likelihood because the pre-existing condition would not have given rise to symptoms and limitations for 10 years. Mr. Olynyk is now 47 years old. I think it reasonable to reduce the award for general damages to account for his pre-existing condition by 30 percent.

[90]The plaintiff is entitled to $28,000 in general damages ($40,000 less 30 percent). That amount must be further reduced to account for Mr. Olynyk’s failure to mitigate. The net award of non-pecuniary damages is therefore $22,400.

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In the second case released this week (Scoffield v. Jentsch) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 collision on Vancouver Island.  Although the Defendant admitted fault there was “a serious dispute between the plaintiff and the defendant as to the severity of the force of impact“.

Mr. Justice Halfyard noted several ‘concerns about the Plaintiff’s credibility‘ and went on to find that the impact was quite minor finding as follows:

[201]I find that, after initially coming to a full stop, the defendant’s vehicle was moving very slowly when it made contact with the rear bumper of the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff’s car was not pushed forward. The damage caused by the collision was minor. The force of the impact was low. The defendant backed his car up after the collision, and the bits of plastic picked up by the plaintiff some distance behind her car, fell away from his car as he was backing up. I do not accept the plaintiff’s estimate that the closest pieces of plastic on the roadway were eight feet behind the bumper of her car.

Despite this finding and the noted credibility concerns, the Court found that the Plaintiff did suffer soft tissue injuries to her neck and upper back and awarded non-pecuniary damages of $30,000.  In doing so Mr. Justice Halfyard provided the following reasons:

[202]The defendant admits that the plaintiff sustained injury to the soft tissues of her neck, upper back and shoulders as a result of the collision of April 9, 2009. I made that finding of fact. But the plaintiff alleges that the degree of severity of the injury was moderate, whereas the defence argues that it was only mild, or mild to moderate in degree…

[221]I find that, from April 16, 2009 until August 9, 2009, the pain from the injury prevented the plaintiff from working. After that, she was able to commence a gradual return to working full-time, which took a further two months until October 10, 2009. For the first four months after the accident, the pain from the injury prevented the plaintiff from engaging in her former recreational and athletic activities. She gradually resumed her former activities after that time. I find that, by the spring of 2010, the plaintiff had substantially returned to the level of recreational and athletic activities that she had done before the accident. After that time, any impairment of the plaintiff’s physical capacity to work or to do other activities was not caused by the injury she sustained in the accident on April 9, 2009…

[226]The plaintiff must be fairly compensated for the amount of pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that she has incurred by reason of the injury caused by the defendant’s negligence. In light of the findings of fact that I have outlined above, I have decided that the plaintiff should be awarded $30,000.00 as damages for non-pecuniary loss.

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(UPDATE March 19, 2014 – the BC Court of Appeal overturned the liability split below to 75/25 in the Plaintiff’s favour)

In this week’s third case, (Russell v. Parks) the pedestrian Plaintiff was injured in a parking lot collision with a vehicle.  The Court found that both parties were to blame for the impact but the Plaintiff shouldered more of the blame being found 66.3% at fault.

The Plaintiff suffered a fracture to the fifth metacarpal of his right foot and a chronic soft tissue injury to his knee.  The latter injury merged with pre-existing difficulties to result in on-going symptoms.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $45,000 (before the reduction to account for liability) Mr. Justice Abrioux provided the following reasons:

[63]I make the following findings of fact based on my consideration of the evidence both lay and expert as a whole:

(a)      the plaintiff’s “original position” immediately prior to the Accident included the following:

·being significantly overweight and deconditioned;

·having a hypertension condition which had existed for many years;

·asymptomatic degenerative osteoarthritis to both knees, more significant to the right than the left; and

·symptomatic left foot and ankle difficulties.

(b)      prior to the Accident, the plaintiff’s weight and deconditioning, together with the left foot and ankle difficulties caused him to live a rather sedentary lifestyle. Although he was able to work from time to time and participate in certain leisure activities, these were lessening as he grew older.

(c)      the Accident did not cause the degenerative osteoarthritis in the right knee to become symptomatic. It did, however, cause a soft-tissue injury which continued to affect the plaintiff to some extent at the time of trial.

(d)      the plaintiff’s ongoing difficulties are multifactoral. They include:

·his ongoing weight and conditioning problems. Although Mr. Russell’s pre-Accident weight and lack of conditioning would likely have affected his work and enjoyment of the amenities of life even if the Accident had not occurred, the injuries which he did sustain exacerbated that pre-existing condition;

·the plaintiff’s pre-existing but quiescent cardiac condition would have materialized the way it did even if the Accident had not occurred. This condition would have affected his long term day-to-day functioning including his ability to earn an income;

·notwithstanding this, the injuries sustained in the Accident, particularly the right knee, continue to affect his ongoing reduced functioning. This will continue indefinitely, to some degree, although some weight loss and an exercise rehabilitation program will likely assist him;

·an exercise and weight loss program would have been of benefit to the plaintiff even if the Accident had not occurred.,,

[73]From the mid range amount of approximately $60,000 I must take into account the plaintiff’s original position and the measurable risk the pre-Accident condition would have affected the plaintiff’s life had the Accident not occurred. Accordingly, I award non pecuniary damages in the amount of $45,000.

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In the final case (Hill v. Swayne) the 35 year old Plaintiff was involved in a 2009 collision.  Fault was admitted by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff sustained soft tissue injuries to his neck and back.   The Court noted some reliability issues with the Plaintiff’s evidence and found his collision related injuries were largely resolved by the time of trial.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $20,000 Mr. Justice Armstrong provided the following reasons:

[68]Mr. Hill suffered a neck strain and lumbar strain and received 13 physiotherapy treatments ending February 2, 2010. He was absent from work from December 14, 2009 to January 4, 2010..

[74]I accept that an injury of the type suffered by Mr. Hill was particularly troublesome in light of the heavy work in his role as a journeyman/foreman roofer. A back injury to a person in his circumstances, even if not disabling in itself, would require extra care and watchfulness on the job to ensure that the injury is not exacerbated. In considering the criteria in Stapely, it is significant that Mr. Hill, who was a heavy lifting labourer, injured his back and that the injury has lingering effects. The injuries have minimally impacted his lifestyle, and he has dealt stoically with his employment.

[75]The severity of his pain was modest and the extent to which the duration of his discomfort was related to the accident is uncertain. However, I accept that there is some connection between the collision and his ongoing complaints.

[76]I have considered various cases cited by counsel and additionally referred to the Reichennek case. Although comparisons are of some assistance, I am to focus on the factors set out by the Court of Appeal and the specific circumstances of the plaintiff in this particular case. In the final analysis, I would award the plaintiff non-pecuniary damages of $20,000.

$65,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment for Chronic Pain Disorder

Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, assessing damages for a chronic pain disorder caused by a motor vehicle collision.
In yesterday’s case (Loveys v. Fleetham) the Plaintiff was involved in a significastn 2006 collision.   The Plaintiff was struck by an out of control large truck driven by the Defendant.  The force of impact pushed the Plaintiff’s vehicle off the road.  The Plaintiff alleged she suffered physical and psychiatric injuries as a consequence of the crash.
Mr. Justice Armstrong found that the Plaintiff did suffer from physical injuries which went on to cause a chronic pain disorder.  The court did not find the Plaintiff’s psychiatric difficulties were related to the collision finding these had their origin in other life events.  The reasons for judgement are useful for the Courts lengthy discussion of causation and indivisible injuries.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $65,000 Mr. Justice Armstrong provided the following reasons:

[191] I am satisfied that Ms. Loveys suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck, back and shoulder and that those areas of complaint have evolved into a chronic pain disorder. I accept the plaintiff’s chronic pain was caused by the accidents. I also accept that she experienced an exacerbation of her pre-existing symptoms of depression and bulimia after the accident; the plaintiff has not proven that “but for the accident” she would have suffered the recurrent bulimia, acute stress disorder and/or depression.

[192] Ms. Loveys experienced significant psychological symptoms after the accident but they have not been proven to have resulted from the car accident. On the evidence it is equally possible she would have developed a major depression even if the motor-vehicle accident had not occurred. The history of disputes with CRA, the bankruptcy, the serious tax arrears, the death of her friend, her parents’ illness, and the strata owners litigation all indicate she faced serious stressors that would have occurred independent of the accident. She had already had an attack of bulimia in March 2006 and was under stress at the time of the accident.

[193] In my view Ms. Loveys’ psychiatric symptoms represented a divisible injury which is separate from the initial pain and chronic pain complaints that have persisted…

[214] I have concluded that Ms. Loveys has endured significant suffering and inconvenience resulting from the injuries from the accident. I observe that she will likely have symptoms of chronic pain for the balance of her life although there is some possibility she may yet achieve some improvement. Although I do not attribute her recurrent bulimia or her depression to the accident I accept that the duration of her physical symptoms and the interference with her very active lifestyle are important factors in this assessment. The presence of chronic pain has, for this very active woman, impacted her work life, her competitive and recreational dance, and the level of enjoyment she achieved from her other recreational choices. The plaintiff had an extraordinary history of physical accomplishments in her vocational and recreational life before the accident and her return to full participation in these activities is guarded.

[215] Her injuries will not prevent her from returning to most of those activities; she will not be able to perform in those areas with the same intensity and for the same duration she enjoyed prior to her injuries.

[216] Even on an intermittent basis, chronic pain deprives a victim of the enjoyment of a full and active life. Chronic pain coupled with the limitations on Ms. Loveys’ recreational activity and work will play an important part limiting her future enjoyment. I must consider that her low back pain and toe pain will also detract from her enjoyment of life as will her psychiatric health issues. In view of all of these factors I conclude that she is entitled to $65,000 for her non-pecuniary losses.

Motorist 50% at Fault for Crash After Entering Intersection on Late Amber

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing fault for a common type of intersection crash; one involving a left-hand turning vehicle and a through driver.
In this week’s case (McPherson v. Lange) the Defendant was travelling Northbound on Canada Way in Burnaby, BC.  The Defendant was intending to make a left hand turn.  (Defendant’s view depicted in below photo)

At the same time the Plaintiff was travelling in the on-coming southbound lane.  The Defendant committed to the intersection and waited to turn.  After the light turned amber she began her turn.  The Plaintiff drove through on a late amber light and the collision occurred.  In finding both parties equally to blame Mr. Justice Armstrong provided the following reasons:

[40] Based on Ms. Lange’s and Mr. Enns’ description of the events leading up to the accident, I have concluded that she stopped before entering the intersection, entered the intersection and stopped again. She proceeded on the amber light, and erroneoulsy believed that she had sufficient time to complete her turn without contributing to a risk of collision with the oncoming McPherson vehicle. She did not see the McPherson van before making her decision to proceed with her left turn and did not look again or see him as she started to travel through the balance of the intersection.

[41] It also appears to me that when she first saw the McPherson van some distance from the intersection, she misjudged the speed and/or distance of the vehicle. She did not express any expectation that Mr. McPherson would be able to stop or would stop before colliding with her…

[45] Section 128 of the MVA required Mr. McPherson to stop his vehicle unless the stop could not be made safely. He could not suggest or explain why he could not have stopped his vehicle safely in the time between the appearance of the amber light and the impact. He did not say he was too close to the intersection to bring his vehicle to a stop or that there were any other circumstances that would have prevented him from stopping his van. It is clear that his light was amber for 4.5 seconds and that he entered the intersection towards the end of that 4.5 second time. I conclude the McPherson vehicle had time to stop safely without entering the intersection. This is corroborated by the testimony of Mr. Melin who was in the lane to Mr. McPherson’s right. Mr. Melin said that he had ample time to stop and was surprised that Mr. McPherson sped past him after the light turned amber. I also find on the evidence that Mr. McPherson did have enough time to stop before the light turned to red, and in choosing not to do so, he created a significant danger.

[46] In my view Mr. McPherson did not drive prudently and his failure to stop his vehicle before entering the intersection was a breach of his duty to Ms. Lange. Mr. McPherson admits that his negligence contributed to the accident but he argues that Ms. Lange is also contributorily negligent…

[49] The tension between the obligations of the left-turning driver and the through driver are difficult to resolve. It is clear from Morgan, Mitchell and Tejani that the left-turning driver has an obligation to keep a lookout for a vehicle obviously headed into the intersection in disregard for the traffic signal…

[54] I cannot measure the differing degrees of fault between both the plaintiff and defendant and accordingly, I apportion liability at 50% against Mr. McPherson and 50% against Ms. Lange.

$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Damage Assessment for Chronic Soft Tissue Injury; ICBC Expert Rejected

Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for motor vehicle related injuries.
In yesterday’s case (Kardum v. Asadi-Moghadam) the Plaintiff was involved in 2 collisions.  He was not at fault for either.   The Plaintiff’s physicians provided evidence that he suffered from chronic soft tissue injuries as a result of these crashes.  ICBC’s expert (Dr. Grypma) provided evidence minimizing the Plaintiff’s injuries.  Mr. Justice Armstrong preferred the Plaintiff’s physicians and concluded that the collisions were responsible for the Plaintiff’s ongoing pain.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $70,000 the Court made the following findings:
[112] I conclude that Mr. Kardum suffered a chronic soft tissue injury to his neck, shoulder, and upper back region caused in the accidents of 2007 and 2009. In addition to those injuries Mr. Kardum suffers ongoing chronic headaches and disrupted sleep secondary to his neck pain. His prognosis is guarded and it is unlikely that he will become symptom free. The intensity of these symptoms will vary over time and he will likely achieve some improvement over the next one to two years. The measure of that improvement is unknown but may be a function of his efforts in pursuing the recommendations of Dr. Caillier…
[161] I conclude that Mr. Kardum suffers from chronic pain involving his left posterior lateral neck, his posterior shoulder, and upper back region. He continually has headaches and disrupted sleep secondary to the pain involving his neck. He has some prospect of improvement in symptoms but will likely have a measure of pain or discomfort for the balance of his life…

[173] I have concluded that the nature of Mr. Kardum’s injuries coupled with the duration of symptoms that are likely to be permanent will diminish his lifestyle and affect his social relationships. There may be improvement but there will be a permanent reduction in his enjoyment of a lifestyle that was, before the accidents, unbounded by any physical limitations. He has been resilient to the point of maintaining an active physical exercise routine but will continue to have the nagging discomfort and inconvenience of the symptoms he now complains about. He is a young man and will have these symptoms over many years; his will be a different life because of the accident.

[174] I conclude that Mr. Kardum is entitled to non-pecuniary damages of $70,000.

This decision is also worth reviewing for the Court’s comments on the various expert witnesses that testified.  In rejecting ICBC’s independent medical examiner Mr. Justice Armstrong provided the following reasons:

[111] Dr. Grypma is an orthopaedic surgeon. He is not a specialist in rehabilitation medicine. His opportunity to observe and examine Mr. Kardum was restricted to a single 1.5 hour examination on January 31, 2011. He confirmed that Mr. Kardum did not demonstrate any nonorganic symptoms. He was not aware of the amount of damage to the defendant’s vehicle in the first accident. He did not make the same observations of Mr. Kardum’s physical symptoms noted by Drs. Caillier and Schukett. Where there are conflicts between his opinions and the evidence of Drs. Caillier and Schukett, I accept the opinions of the latter two doctors.

Plaintiff Statement to Police Excluded Based on Hearsay Objection

(Update: November 6, 2012 – the trial judges liability decision was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in reasons for judgement released today)
In my effort to archive ‘voir dire‘ rulings dealing with civil procedure issues in personal injury cases, I summarize recent reasons for judgement released by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing the admissibility of a Plaintiff’s post accident statement to police.
In last week’s case (Nerval v. Kherha) the Plaintiff was involved in an intersection collision in Abbotsford in 2007.  She sued for damages.  Following the collision the Plaintiff provided a statement to the investigating officer regarding the circumstances of the crash.  At trial the Plaintiff testified as to how the collision occurred.  She also wished to introduce her statement to the investigating officer.  The Defendant objected arguing this statement could not properly be admitted.  Mr. Justice Armstrong agreed and ruled that the statement was inadmissible.  The court provided the following concise reasons:

[47]Ms. Nerval applied to tender her statement to Cst. Baskin because she could not recall the events surrounding the collisions. A voir dire was held. Cst. Baskin reported that Ms. Nerval had told him that she was making a left-hand turn to go westbound on Sandpiper. At the time there was a van facing southbound indicating a left turn and an intention to go eastbound on Sandpiper. She said she did not see any other motor vehicle coming towards her. She did not remember if she had her signal light on; there was no mention of a signal light in his notes. Ms. Nerval told him that the other van had its signal on. That is the totality of his conversation with Ms. Nerval.

[48]The defence opposed the admission of this statement into evidence on the basis that it fails to meet the requirement of necessity. The defence argues that to be admissible the statement must be used to rebut an allegation of recent fabrication, be a prior inconsistent statement, or be a statement contemporaneous with an event reported in the statement.

[49]I conclude that the statement is not admissible. The circumstances under which the statement was taken do not reflect that it was taken contemporaneously with the event. The evidence did not support the suggestion that it was a contemporaneous report. There was no suggestion that the statement was inconsistent with the evidence given by Ms. Nerval at the trial and no suggestion that the there was an allegation of recent fabrication of evidence.

[50]If I am wrong in my conclusions regarding the admissibility of the statement, I would otherwise have concluded that the statement did not contain any information that materially augmented the evidence of Ms. Nerval at trial.

Relying on Police Alone Insufficient Effort in ICBC Hit and Run Injury Claim


As previously discussed, when suing ICBC for damages as a result of the actions of an unidentified motorist (UIM), a Plaintiff needs to make reasonable efforts to ascertain the identify of the UIM.  Failing to do so will prove fatal in the claim against ICBC under s. 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, discussing whether relying on the police to investigate the identity of an unknown motorist is sufficient.
In this week’s case (Lort v. Kwan) the Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle collision.  The Plaintiff was on a motorcycle travelling behind the defendant’s vehicle.  An Unidentified Motorist changed lanes in front of the Defendant causing the Defendant to hit her brakes and swerve to the right which in turn caused a collision with the Plaintiff.  Mr. Justice Armstrong found that all 3 motorists were partly to blame for the crash with the UIM and the Defendant each bearing 40% of the blame and the Plaintiff being 20% at fault.
Despite finding that the UIM was partly to blame the Court dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim against ICBC (who was sued in place of the UIM) because the Plaintiff failed to take reasonable steps to identify the UIM following the crash.  Mr. Justice Armstrong provided the following reasons:
[36] The plaintiff did not post signs looking for help in identifying the UIM. Although he did return to the scene of the accident some weeks late to take pictures, he did not advertise in an effort to identify the UIM, nor did he question any of the merchants in the busy commercial area. He did not make any enquiries of the police. He said that he thought that the police were handling the investigation of the accident. The plaintiff submitted a claim under the unidentified motorist provisions of the Act…

[99]         The plaintiff acknowledges that he did not advertise, post signs or notices, attend at the scene of the accident to make inquiries of merchants in the neighbouring area, or follow up with the police after his initial contact with them at the time of the accident.

[100]     ICBC submits that the plaintiff’s failure to take any of the steps ordinarily associated with all reasonable efforts to identify the owner or driver of a vehicle who has caused an accident is fatal to his claim against it.

[101]     I conclude that the plaintiff did not make any reasonable efforts to identify the UIM involved in the accident other than speaking to the police who attended the accident scene and later  in the hospital. He left everything to the police without ever following up on their progress.

[102]     In the circumstances, I conclude that the plaintiff’s failure to take reasonable steps precludes him from succeeding in this action against the ICBC. Accordingly, although I have concluded that the UIM is 40% at fault, I dismiss the action against ICBC with costs.

Court Lacks Discretion To Deviate From Costs Agreement In Formal Settlement Offers


Authorities under the formal Rule 37B held that when a formal settlement offer dealing with costs consequences was accepted the BC Supreme Court had no discretion to make a different order with respect to costs.  The first case I’m aware of dealing with this issue under the New Rules was released today.  The Court upheld the principle developed under the former rule.
In today’s case (Sahota v. Sandulo) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2004 motor vehicle collision in Surrey, BC.  He started a lawsuit which was set for trial by Jury.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff incurred significant disbursements advancing the claim.  Fearful that the Jury trial would not go favorably the Plaintiff delivered a formal offer of settlement of $3,000 “plus court costs and disbursements“.  The Defendant accepted the formal offer.
The parties then could not agree on the costs consequences.  The Defendant brought a motion to address this issue.  Mr. Justice Armstong held that precedents developed under Rule 37B remain good law and that the Court has no discretion with respect to costs awards in these circumstances.   The Court provided the following reasons:

[28] Generally, the Court has discretion in relation to costs; however, where an offer to settle with specific terms as to costs has been accepted, to which Rule 9-1  applies, the Court does not have discretion to vary the terms of that agreement as they relate to costs.

[29] In Buttar v. Di Spirito, 2009 BCSC 72, Gerow J. held:

[11]      Both parties advanced arguments that the court has discretion under Rule 37B to make an order regarding costs. However, it is my opinion that the court has no discretion to make an order regarding costs in this matter. Mr. Buttar accepted the offer put forth by the defendants, including the offer regarding costs, without reservation. It is my view that Rule 37B does not confer discretion on the court to set aside an agreement that has been entered into between the parties regarding costs.

[33]         The rule in Buttar has been consistently applied in this Court and appears determinative of this issue.

[34]         Buttar and cases following it did not address Rule 9-1(4) as it relates to an accepted settlement that addresses costs. Rule 9-1(4) states:

(4)        The court may consider an offer to settle when exercising the court’s discretion in relation to costs.

[35]         Buttar held that the Court does not possess discretion to vary costs where a formal offer to settle, specifically addressing costs, has been accepted. If, in such circumstances, the Court is not in a position to exercise discretion in relation to costs, Rule 9-1(4) is of no application.

[36]         The rule in Buttar is applicable to the defendant’s application in this case. The plaintiff’s offer to settle, accepted by the defendant, created an agreement between the parties. This agreement is not subject to the Court’s discretion as to costs. In my view, the purpose of the rules would be frustrated if a party was free to accept an offer, clear and unambiguous on its face, and then move to invoke the Court’s discretion to add or vary terms to substantially rewrite the agreement reached by the parties.

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

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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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