Tag: Mr. Justice Macaulay

$120,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Soft Tissue and Post Concussive Injury

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, assessing damages and fault following a motor vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Hill v. Murray) the Plaintiff was involved in “a very bad car accident” in 2009.  The Defendant was found fully at fault.  The Plaintiff’s injuries included chronic soft tissue injury and post concussive symptoms.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $120,000 Mr. Justice Macaulay provided the following reasons:
196]     On balance, I prefer the evidence of the plaintiff’s doctors where it conflicts materially with that of the defendants’ doctors. I find that Ms. Hill received the following injuries as a result of the accident:
          1.       Soft tissue injuries to the left neck and shoulder, including AC joint, with cervicogenic headaches and some numbness and tingling down her left arm, now plateaued but not symptom free, particularly if she attempts to do too much;
          2.       Chronic intermittent pain;
          3.       Migraines (aural), under control;
          4.       Migraines unresolved and triggered differently than pre-accident migraines associated with pre-menstrual period;
          5.       PTSD (resolved by the time of trial);
          6.       Nightmares, transitory and resolved;
          7.       MTBI or post-concussion syndrome resulting in ongoing fatigue, memory, concentration, and balance problems;
          8.       Possible overlap of vestibular injury (trauma to utricle) causing or contributing to balance issues; and
          9.       Adjustment disorder, largely in remission.
I do not accept the sufficiency of the evidence respecting temporo-mandibular joint dysfunction.
[197]     It is now more than four years post-accident. Ms. Hill is unlikely to see further improvement. Instead, ongoing therapies will aim at pain management, assisting with balance issues and any further adaptions required respecting the effects of the MTBI or post-concussion syndrome. As she ages, the balance issues will likely elevate her risk of falling.
[198]     Ms. Hill’s injuries have significantly impacted her life and will continue to do so. She has lost the ability to participate in many of the sport and recreational activities that she enjoyed before the accident. Her physical interactions with the children are more limited than before. In social interactions, Ms. Hill is now easily overwhelmed or cannot recall the conversation thread. Her personality now appears different and less attractive to her family, friends and associates.
[199]     While Ms. Hill has been able to return to work at Butchart Gardens, she no longer takes the same degree of pleasure in her work and requires employer accommodations in order to do her job. It is unlikely that she will be able to fulfill the specific career aspirations that she had in mind before the accident and accordingly, she must adjust to that loss as well…
[212]     I reiterate that no two cases are truly alike when assessing non-pecuniary damages. I assess non-pecuniary damages at $120,000.
 

Assumed Future Fact Scenarios Are OK In Economic Expert Reports

Reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing the appropriateness of assumed future fact scenarios in an economists report.  In short the Court held that such assumptions could be laid out in the body of a report.
In the recent case (Hill v. Murray) Mr. Justice Macaulay provided the following comments on this topic:
[7] In Sacilloto v. Crossman (1990), 49 B.C.L.R. (2d) 375 (S.C.), the defence objected to an economist’s report that set out various possible scenarios for the expected earnings of the plaintiff, based on the assumption that he had not been injured in the accident, along with further scenarios for possible earnings after the accident.
[8] The court pointed out that many of the assumptions underpinning the report were at issue in the trial and, as a result, it would be impossible for counsel or the economist to rely on one assumption as to facts. The court considered the use of several scenarios to be in harmony with the fact that there were a number of live issues at trial. On admitting the report, the court stated:
(12) I am left with the impression that the author of the report has endeavoured … to tie the statistical data to the various possible scenarios that I may find or may not find applicable to the plaintiff. In doing so, he has endeavoured to mould the report to the likely evidence scenarios before the Court. That opinion evidence to me is useful evidence. It provides me with materials which, from my general experience both before and after coming to the Bench, I would not otherwise have.
(13) The case here is not a simple looking ahead for someone who has worked for many years and has established his working pattern in life. …
(14) Here, I am dealing with a young man who is embarking upon a working career, who on the evidence … was in a state of flux as to what he would do in the future … The type of evidence that has been put before me is such that I could not from my own experience pluck it out of my mind and arrive at reasonable estimates as to what might lie ahead depending on the findings of fact that I make.
Although this case suggests that admissibility may depend on the complexity of the calculations involved and the uncertainty of the future options for the plaintiff, the use of the scenarios does not in itself render the material inadmissible.
[9] Finally, the Court of Appeal implicitly improved the admission and use of such expert opinion material in Jurczak v. Mauro, 2013 BCCA 507. In that case, the economist provided an expert opinion on loss of earning capacity based on two sets of assumptions arising out of the plaintiff’s pre-accident work history and proffered scenarios in each case.
[10] Although the Court of Appeal overruled the trial judge’s approach to determining future loss of earning capacity, the court commented, “if there are mathematical aids that may be of some assistance, the court should start its analysis by considering them.” A failure to do so may result in a wholly erroneous estimate of the damages (both at paragraph 37).
[11] In this regard, I am satisfied that the sections of the reports and tables to which the defendant objects in the present case are admissible.
To my knowledge these reasons for judgement have not yet been publicly published but, as always, I am happy to share a copy with anyone who contacts me and requests them.
 

Social Host Lawsuit Survives Summary Dismissal Application


As previously discussed, the circumstances of when a social host (ie – the host of a private party at a residence) can be held liable for injuries caused when an intoxicated guest leaves and causes injury to others is an open one.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, further addressing this area of the law.
In today’s case (Lutter v. Smithson) the plaintiff was injured when a vehicle in which he was a passenger was struck by the defendant Smithson.  Prior to the collision Smithson, who was 18 at the time, attended a “Bring Your Own Booze” party and became “very drunk“.  The party was hosted by the Defendants Mazus to celebrate their daughter’s 19th Birthday   The Mazus brought a summary dismissal application arguing that they cannot be held liable in these circumstances.  Mr. Justice Macaualy dismissed the application finding this “novel question of liability” should be decided via full trial.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
[15]         As a more general proposition, I am satisfied that the novel question of liability arising out of the consumption of alcohol by a minor at a party hosted on a defendant’s property as raised in this case is best addressed after a full trial. That approach ensures the most complete record possible. In reaching that conclusion, I take into account the additional costs to the Mazus associated with the trial process but there is otherwise no prejudice. In Sidhu v. Hiebert, 2011 BCSC 1364, the summary judgment application judge reached a similar conclusion…
[21]         Childs is a very important decision relating to social host liability. In determining the sufficiency of the affidavit material here and whether it is just to decide the issues on summary judgment, a review of the principles that emerge from the case assists.
[22]         In Childs, the defendant homeowners hosted a party, during the course of which they served a small quantity of alcohol to adult guests. For the most part, the event was “BYOB”. The defendants knew that one of the guests, Desormeaux, was known to be a heavy drinker. As Desormeaux walked to his car to leave, one of the hosts inquired if he was okay to drive. Desormeaux responded affirmatively and drove away. The accident ensued.
[23]         Childs was the first time the Supreme Court considered whether social, as opposed to commercial, hosts who invite guests to an event where alcohol is served owe a duty of care to third parties who may be injured by intoxicated guests (para. 8).
[24]         The court did not accept that the existence of a duty on the part of commercial hosts could be extended, by analogy, to the hosts of a private party (para. 23). Accordingly, the court went on to apply the first stage of the Anns test (Anns v. Merton London Borough Council, [1978] A.C. 728), and concluded, for two reasons, that the necessary proximity had not been established (para. 26):
First, the injury to Ms. Childs was not reasonably foreseeable on the facts found by the trial judge. Second, even if foreseeability were established, no duty would arise because the wrong alleged is a failure to act or nonfeasance in circumstances where there was no positive duty to act. [Emphasis added.]
[25]         Of potential significance here, the trial judge in Childs never found that the hosts knew, or ought to have known, that the guest who was about to drive was too drunk to do so. For that reason, foreseeability, and accordingly proximity, were not established. Although there was evidence that Desormeaux had a high blood alcohol rating, evidence that the hosts knew of his intoxication was absent (para. 28).
[26]         At first blush, Mrs. Mazu’s admission that she knew Smithson was drunk before he left the party appears to fill the foreseeability gap that the Supreme Court first identified in Childs. That appears to strengthen the application respondents’ contention that foreseeability may be established here.
[27]         As to the second point made in Childs respecting the lack of a positive duty to act, the hosts and guests were all adults. The court identified the lack of paternal relationship between host and guest, coupled with the autonomy of the guest, as factors that militated against imposing a positive duty to act on the hosts (see paras. 42–45).
[28]         In the present case, the application respondents point out that s. 33(1)(c) of the LCLA forbids a host permitting a minor to consume liquor “in or at a place under his or her control.” At the material time, the uncontradicted evidence is that Smithson was 18 years old and, accordingly, a minor. I agree with the respondents that this may militate in favour of imposing a positive duty. The evidence also reveals that other minors were present at the party, although it may be that most were also close to the age of majority.
[29]         To adopt some of the language in Childs, found at para. 45, these distinctions raise the question whether an adult host is actively implicated in the creation or enhancement of the risk if she permits an underage person on her property to consume alcohol to the point of intoxication, perhaps extreme intoxication. As in Sidhu, that important question is, in my view, better left to be determined upon the fullest record available after a regular trial. Accordingly, it would be unjust to decide the issue on a summary judgment application.
[30]         There is, in my view, a significant risk of injustice in attempting to determine the answers to the essential questions that the Mazus raise in this case on a summary trial. I dismiss the application.

Catastrophically Injured Infant Ordered to Pay Public Trustee $79,000 in legal fees for legal fee review

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, discussing the circumstances when BC’s Public Guardian and Trustee can recover legal fees for their involvement in the scrutiny of the settlement of an injury claim involving an infant.
In this week’s case (E.B. v. Basi) the infant plaintiff was catastrophically injured while in foster care during an alleged intentional ”shaken baby” assault.  The incident led to profound lifelong disability requiring a lifetime of care needs.  A $13,000,000 settlement was ultimately reached and judicially approved.   The lawfirm involved sought contingency fess of over $3,000,000.  The Public Trustee, who was required by statute to weigh in on the matter, intervened and submitted that fees of $2,000,o00 were appropriate .  Ultimately the Court approved fees of $2.4 million.
The Public trustee incurred legal fees of over $79,000 in the process of intervening in the fee approval process.  They sought, pursuant to Section 10 of the Infants Act, to recover this from the infant’s lawyers or, in the alternative, from the infant’s estate.  Mr. Jutice Macaulay held that while the Public Trustee’s legal fees were “clearly high” they were ultimately reasonable.
The Court went on to hold that while section 10 of the Infants Act would technically allow for these fees to be payable from the Infants lawyers, absent ‘reprehensible conduct‘ by the lawfirm such an order would be inappropriate   The Court held that the infant’s estate was liable to pay the Public Trustee’s costs.  In finding that the fees should not be levied against the Plaintiff’s counsel the Court provided the following reasons:
[21]         I now turn to whether the Firm can be held partially responsible for this sum. As was noted earlier, indemnification of the PGT is governed by s. 10 of the Infants Act, which allows the court to direct that the PGT’s costs be paid out of either the estate of the infant or by “any other person who is a party to the proceeding.”
[22]         On its face, s. 10 does not appear to contemplate that the infant’s lawyer could be responsible for the PGT’s costs. However, returning to the analysis in Harrington, the Firm is properly characterized as a party in this proceeding. In Harrington, the Court of Appeal awarded special costs against the lawyer on the basis of that determination. The logical conclusion is that I have jurisdiction to make an award of ordinary costs against the Firm, although I am not aware of the court ever making such an award.
[23]         This case differs from Harrington in that there are no grounds here for an award of special costs. The Firm did not engage in reprehensible conduct deserving of rebuke (Garcia v. Crestbrook Forest Industries Ltd. (1994), 119 D.L.R. (4th) 740). In my view, the Firm took a position on time spent that was unreasonable, but I would not characterize it as reprehensible based on the continuum of behaviour discussed in Garcia and other cases. As such, the only remaining possibility is that the Firm be liable for an award of ordinary costs.
[24]         I have already discussed the potential dangers of shoehorning the traditional analysis for an award of costs to the present proceeding. I am not convinced that there is any “successful” party with regard to fee approval.
[25]         The process mandated by the Infants Act is intended to ensure that the amount of the fee is in the infant’s best interests. The PGT, on behalf of the infant, does not take an adversarial role against the infant’s lawyer. The Firm has an obvious self-interest in the outcome but is not opposing the best interests of the infant.
[26]         Absent any basis to award special costs, I decline to award costs against the Firm.

"Reprehensible" Government Conduct Results in Special Costs Order

Adding to my archived posts addressing tensions between BC’s Judiciary and the Government, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, finding the Government acted in a ‘reprehensible‘ way when dealing with Provincial Court Judges salaries in resorting to “secretive…unconstitutional considerations“.  This resulted in an order for payment of special costs.
Today’s case (Provincial Court Judges’ Association of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Attorney General)) is the latest chapter dealing with a salary dispute between the Provincial Court Judges’ Association of BC and the Government.  The PCJA succeeded in their petition respecting the remuneration dispute.   The PCJA then sought payment of special costs associated with the litigation   Mr. Justice Macaulay agreed this was an appropriate remedy and provided the following rebuke to the Government:
[12]         The aggravating feature in the present case is the entirely inappropriate response of the AG in the Cabinet submission. The AG knew that the Cabinet submission focused on issues, including the question of linkage between judicial and other civil servant salaries, that the Supreme Court of Canada had expressly rejected in Bodner as unconstitutional. That is evident from the wording of the submission and is deserving of censure.
[13]         Given the importance of the process to the public and the PCJA, coupled with the need for transparency in this proceeding, two other matters also deserve censure. First, ordinarily a copy of the Cabinet submission would not be produced. It was only produced in this case as a result of court order. If the Cabinet submission had not been produced, the court may not have appreciated that the government response was based on constitutionally inappropriate considerations. In part, that is because the government affidavit material described the content of the Cabinet submission in a misleading way.
[14]         Second, the AG spoke to the media on May 25, 2011, and specifically raised the linkage to other salaries as “another factor” for consideration by government in formulating its response. The AG did not provide an affidavit or any sworn evidence in this proceeding but he did respond, albeit by letter of his counsel, to questions that counsel for the PCJA raised respecting the media interview. Counsel for the PCJA describes the response as disingenuous. I am not prepared to go that far in the circumstances but the response was certainly less than forthright. The actual content and context for the interview is only available because the media recorded it.
[15]         In my view, the government’s conduct relating to the important constitutional process of setting judicial remuneration as well as its conduct during the judicial review proceeding deserve judicial rebuke. I reach this conclusion reluctantly but have kept in mind that the effectiveness of the process necessarily depends on the goodwill of government. The secretive resort to unconstitutional considerations during the framing of the government response is entirely inconsistent with the obligation of government as was its failure to be forthright during the proceeding.
[16]         In the result, the Legislative Assembly made its decision not understanding how Cabinet arrived at its decision. The public, the PCJA and the court are all entitled to more from the AG and the government
[17]         As a result, the PCJA is entitled to its costs, to be assessed as special costs.

Contingency Fees and Catastrophic Infant Claims Discussed

Section 40 of the BC Infants Act requires judicial approval of injury claim settlements involving infants with claims settled at over $50,000.  The approval of legal fees is part of the judicial scrutiny process.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing such a settlement and further setting out a useful chart summarizing previous judicially approved fees.
In this week’s case (E.B. v. Basi) the infant plaintiff was catastrophically injured while in foster care during an alleged intentional “shaken baby” assault.  This resulted in severe traumatic brain injuries requiring one-to-one care on a daily basis for the duration of the child’s life.
A settlement of $13,000,000 was judicially approved.  The decision is worth reviewing in full for Mr. Justice Macaulay’s careful analysis of the factors that need to be considered when approving fees in such claims given the non-binding nature of infant contingency fee agreements.  At the conclusion of the reasons for judgement the Court set out the below useful chart of previously approved infant settlements.


Case

Nature of
Claim

Settlement Amount

Settlement Timing

Legal Fee Sought

Hours Estimated


Fee A
warded

Harrington v Royal Columbia
1995 CanLII 2345 (BCCA)

Medical malpractice

$1.5 million and  costs

3 days < trial

$500,000

Estimate of 800 hours not accepted by
trial judge; 280 hours accepted

$175,000

Richardson v Low
1996 CanLII 571

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$2.27 million

Settled well before trial

$897,750

Court says no basis to estimate time but must be less than 260 hours

$325,000

Cook v
Mission
1996 CanLII 1394

Medical malpractice

$2.6 million

Settled on 1st day of trial

$850,000

Non recorded

$650,000

Adams v Emmott
1997 CanLII 746

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$3 million

Settled Thursday before
Tuesday trial

$725,000

300 hours estimate by Court

$600,000

Chong v
Royal
Columbia
1997 CanLII 4362

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$2.5 million

After 1 week of trial

$750,000

2131.2 hours
for counsel
and 654.9 for paralegals and students

$750,000

Renaerts v Korn
1998 CanLII 4979

Medical malpractice (birth and abandonment; intentional infliction of harm)

$8 million
and
$500,000
costs

Settled weekend before trial (numerous pretrial motions and limitation defence)

$2.2 million

Hours for 3 counsel
valued at $825,000

$1.8 million

Duchene v Woolley
2002 BCSC 1878 (CanLII)

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$3.6 million

Settled 2 days before trial although defendants did not serve liability reports

$1.244 million

167 hours estimated but Court notes more was probably spent

$900,000

Bizove v
Cornish
2003 BCSC 1615 (CanLII)

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$3.566 million

3 days before trial

$750,000

740 hours (3 senior counsel)

$750,000

Makowsky v
Jaron
2004 BCSC
419 (CanLII)

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$3.2 million

4 months before trial but liability ceased to be issue several months before trial

$900,000

136 hours recorded but Court suggests they must have exceeded 200 hours

$600,000

Strachan v
Winder
2005 BCSC 59
(CanLII)

Medical malpractice (birth case)

$4 million

2nd day of 2 week trial

$862,500

Recorded time for 3 senior counsel 484 hours

$800,000

Delaronde v.
HMTQ
2000 BCSC
1626

MCFD shaken baby case

$5.448 million

Settled after 4 weeks of evidence and 3 days of submissions

$1.347 million

None mentioned

$1.347 million

B.M.
(Guardian ad
Litem of)
v R.M.
2011 BCSC 64

MCFD shaken baby case

$5.35 million

Liability trial (8 days) and appeal then settled several months before trial

$1.7 million

Hours valued at $607,320

$1.475 million

Case Planning Conferences Not Necessary to Get CPC Consent Order


Useful reasons for judgement were released yesterday (Stockbrugger v. Bigney)  by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding that parties can apply for a Case Planning Conference Order by consent even if they have not had a Case Planning Conference.  While such a power is not set out expressly in the Rules of Court Mr. Justice Macaulay relied on the principle of proportionality to justify this result.  The Court provide the following helpful reasons:

[2] Even though the Supreme Court Civil Rules do not expressly provide for consent case plan orders, permitting the parties to file a consent case plan order is not prohibited and is entirely consistent with the object of the rules to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every proceeding on its merits (Rule 1?3(1)). Further, under sub-rule (2), the object is to be achieved, “so far as is practicable,” by conducting the proceedings in a proportionate manner.

[3] It is important, in considering proportionality, to keep in mind that every court appearance adds a layer of cost for the litigants. Part 5 of the rules, which governs case planning conferences, recognizes this factor. It does not require a case planning conference in every proceeding. In short, the parties may conduct a proceeding entirely without a case plan order if they so choose and the court finds no basis upon which to intervene and direct that a case planning conference take place.

[4] The foregoing is evident from Rule 5-1(1) which permits any party of record to request a case planning conference and Rule 5-1(2) which permits the court, any time after the pleading period has expired, to direct that a case planning conference take place. I see no reason for refusing parties the opportunity to consent to a proposed case plan without adding the cost of what may well be an entirely unnecessary hearing.

[5] Nothing in the rules prohibits a consent case plan order. If a party requests, or the court directs, that a case planning conference take place, Rule 5-3(3) requires that the judge or master conducting the case planning conference “must, at the conclusion of the case planning conference, make a case plan order.” I do not interpret that sub-rule as excluding a consent case plan order absent a case planning conference.

[6] Further, Rule 8-3 governs applications for orders by consent. An application for an order by consent, in the ordinary course, is made by filing a requisition, a draft of the proposed order and evidence that the application is consented to (Rule 8?3(1)(a)-(c)). Sub-rule (2) provides that a registrar may, upon being satisfied that the application is by consent and the appropriate materials filed, refer the application to a judge or master, depending on the jurisdiction necessary to make the particular order. Rule 8-3 does not give rise to an inconsistency with Rule 5-3(3).

[7] I observe that Rule 5-3(4) requires that case planning orders are to be in Form 21. Form 21 includes a case plan. Rule 8-3, on the other hand, provides for an order in Form 34. Form 34 is easily adaptable, as the parties sought to do here, to incorporate a case plan in compliance with Form 21. The solution is, in my view, adequate, proportionate and cost effective for the parties.

[8] Even if there is some inconsistency in the forms as drafted, Rule 1-2(3) permits the court to order that any provision of the rules does not apply “if all parties to a proceeding agree.” If necessary, I would apply this sub-rule to permit consent case plan orders.

"Frightened" Claimant Excused From Obtaining Information From Motorist in s. 24 ICBC Claim


As previously discussed, one of the conditions to successfully sue ICBC under section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act following a hit and run collision is to take “all reasonable efforts” to ascertain the identity of the at fault motorist.  Failure to do so can be fatal to the claim.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Duncan Registry, discussing this requirement.
In this week’s case (Burton v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was involved in a rear-end crash in 2008.  It was a dark and rainy night and the Plaintiff was travelling alone.  Following the collision the rear motorist “immediatley began banging on the windows (of the Plaintiff’s vehicle)…(and) yelled ‘move the car off the road, let’s get this over and done with bitch’ “.  The Plaintiff remained in her vehicle and the rear motorist then “slammed (the Plaintiff’s) door, returned to his vehicle, backed away and then passed by on her right side…and disappeared from her view”.
The Plaintiff sued ICBC for damages under section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.  ICBC denied liability arguing that the Plaintiff had a reasonable opportunity to obtain the at fault motorists details and she failed to discharge her responsibilities under this section.  Mr. Justice Macaulay rejected ICBC’s arguments and awarded the Plaintiff damages.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[26] Section 24 and its predecessor have been judicially considered and applied many times. While the fact patterns in the cases are understandably divergent, there is little, if any, controversy in the law. In Leggett v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (1992), 72 B.C.L.R. (2d) 201 (B.C.C.A.), the Court of Appeal, referring to the predecessor section, set the bar fairly high for plaintiffs, stating at para. 9:

In my view the overall purpose of the section is to limit the exposure of [ICBC] to claims brought by persons who, in the matter of seeking to identify those responsible for the accident, have done everything they reasonably could to protect what ordinarily would be in their own interests, and which, by virtue of the section, become the interests of the corporation.

[31] I am persuaded that the fear and anxiety that Mrs. Burton felt in the circumstances provides a reasonable justification for her failure to ask the driver to properly identify himself or to attempt to identify the license plate. As a woman alone in a car at night, faced with aggressive threatening behaviour, her first concern was legitimately for her safety and to avoid confronting the driver.

[32] I accept that Mrs. Burton never chose, as did the plaintiff in Leggett, not to pursue her obligation. Instead, after reporting the matter to the police, she and her husband, along with friends, looked for the other vehicle. When they thought they might have found it, Mrs. Burton appropriately passed the information on to the police. At that point, it was reasonable, given the location of the vehicle on private property and the conduct of the driver at the time of the collision, that the police, rather than Mrs. Burton, take the investigative steps necessary to confirm whether the vehicle parked on Gibbons Road was involved. She is not responsible for their failure to do so.

[33] Also, Mrs. Burton’s obligation did not extend, in the circumstances, to doing more. I am not persuaded that postings or advertising for witnesses had any realistic prospect of eliciting information that would identify the other vehicle or the driver.

[34] I am satisfied that Mrs. Burton has satisfied the obligations that s. 24(1) places on her. She is entitled to judgment against ICBC as the nominal defendant.

BC Supreme Court Finds Botox Covered Under ICBC's Part 7 Benefits


It is not uncommon for physicians to occasionally prescribe Botox Injections to treat symptoms of pain following motor vehicle collisions.  The Botox itself is not covered by the BC Medical Service Plan and people often turn to ICBC for funding of this expense.  Two recent decisions have addressed whether ICBC is obliged to fund Botox therapy when prescribed by a physician.
In 2008 Mr. Justice Macaulay provided reasons for judgement (Tiessen v. ICBC) finding that Botox is indeed a covered benefit under ICBC’s No-Fault Plan. The Court provided the following reasons:

[]           Counsel for ICBC seeks to impose too high a standard for proving that a recommended treatment is necessary.  I am satisfied that the treatment is necessary in the sense that the plaintiff needs short and long term pain relief for his lower back.  While it is impossible to predict that this particular treatment will succeed, it is nonetheless, on the evidence before me, a necessary physical treatment within the meaning of the section.

[]           There is no evidence to suggest that the proposed cost of the staged treatment is unreasonable.  The fact that the particular treatment is not covered by MSP does not establish that the cost is unreasonable.

[]           I am persuaded that the plaintiff is entitled to a declaration that he is an insured person to be benefited pursuant to Part 7 of the Regulations and a further declaration that he is entitled to receive medical rehabilitative benefits pursuant to the contract of insurance with the defendant under Policy Number 639 DER for the cost of Botox injections as recommended by Dr. Quartly.

Further reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, confirming that Botox is a benefit covered under Part 7.
In today’s case (Plensky v. Di Biase) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2004 motor vehicle collision.  A jury awarded the Plaintiff damages including just over $60,000 for the cost of her future medical care.   The court was then asked to reduce the award to take into account the future expenses that were covered directly by the Plaintiff’s Part 7 Benefits to avoid “double recovery”  (You can click here to read more about this topic).  Madam Justice Ross ultimately made a modest deduction to the Jury’s award.  Part of the deduction reflected the cost of future Botox injections which the Court accepted was a responsibility of ICBC’s under the Plaintiff’s Part 7 Benefits.
Today’s case coupled with Mr. Justice Macaulay’s 2008 decision make it clear that Botox can be covered under people’s own policies of ICBC Insurance.

The BC Supreme Court and Adjournments of Lengthy Trials: The "20-Plus" Program

I’ve previously written about adjournment applications in the BC Supreme Court and that Judges hearing such applications must consider a “balancing (of) the interests of the parties” . Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court indicating that, at least with lengthy trials, a third factor is in play; specifically the “public interest” must be considered.
In this week’s case (Jones v. Donaghey) the Plaintiff sued for damages claiming he was seriously brain damaged when one of the Defendant’s assaulted him.   The Plaintiff was a newborn at the time of the alleged assault and would be four years old at the time of the proposed trial.
The defendants sought an adjournment of the trial arguing that further time was needed in order to obtain proper medical evidence.  Ultimately Mr. Justice Macaulay disagreed and refused the adjournment application.  Prior to doing so, however, the Court indicated that the interests of not only the parties must be considered in adjournment applications of lengthy trials, but also the public interest.  Mr. Justice Macaulay provided the following useful reasons:

[3] Although I address the balancing of the interests of the parties separately below, the public interest is also impacted by the scheduling, and any potential rescheduling of lengthy trials. Considerable public and judicial resources are tied up in the intensive pre-trial management and conduct of trials under what is colloquially known as the “20-plus” program. The court instituted the program some time ago to assist in the management and scheduling of complex civil cases.

[4] Generally, in my view, every effort should be made to avoid the adjournment of trials once set under the program, as litigants in other cases have had to forgo the opportunity to set down their applications or trials for hearing, because either or both the trial management judge’s rota time and court time have been reserved for a 20?plus case.

[5] In more general terms, perhaps, Levine J., as she then was, referred to the need to consider such broader interests of justice when deciding an adjournment application respecting a long trial in Strata Plan VR No. 2000 v. Shaw, at para. 26. Justice Dorgan referred to the above with apparent approval in denying a defence application for an adjournment in J.S. (Guardian ad litem of) v. D.S., at para 17.

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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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