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Tag: Saopaseuth v. Phavongkham

Formal Offer Bested by $920 Fails To Trigger Double Costs

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing if double costs should be awarded where a formal settlement offer was bested by a modest basis.
In today’s case (Saopaseuth v. Phavongkham) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2011 collision.  Prior to trial the Plaintiff provided a formal settlement offer of $44,000.  At trial this amount was exceeded by $920.  In declining to award post offer double costs Mr. Justice Bernard provided the following reasons:

[72]         I am not satisfied that the plaintiff’s formal offer was one that the defendant ought reasonably to have accepted. The offer was not broken down into its constituent elements and it was, therefore, difficult to evaluate. The plaintiff’s claim was under five heads of damage; therefore, a breakdown would have greatly assisted the defendant in evaluating the offer. Also, as in Barnes, the defendant had a legitimate defence to the plaintiff’s claim; indeed, the plaintiff sought $45,656 for loss of future earning capacity at trial and was ultimately awarded nothing under this head of damage.

[73]         As to whether the plaintiff’s formal offer provided the defendant with a genuine incentive to settle or not, the offer was for $44,000 and the plaintiff ultimately sought $120,596 at trial. The latter amount had not been set out in the pleadings and was not quantified until the start of the trial. There was, therefore, an insufficient basis for the defendant to evaluate whether the $44,000 offer was a genuine compromise or not.

[74]         The ultimate award was $44,920. Rule 9-1(6)(b) permits the court to compare the offer to settle with the final judgment. Here, the award was greater than the offer by only $920, or approximately 2%. This marginal difference suggests that little weight should be given to this factor.

[75]         As already observed, the defendant had legitimate defences to the claim and the damages for non-pecuniary damages were significantly reduced by new information that was elicited from the plaintiff’s expert witness in his trial testimony. The plaintiff also recovered nothing for his claim of lost earning capacity. It is noteworthy that there was competing expert evidence that made quantifying damages difficult. I am satisfied that in view of these matters an award of double costs would unduly punish the defendant for mounting a meritorious defence.

$30,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Meralgia Paresthetica With Good Prognosis

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for right leg numbness following a motor vehicle collision.
In today’s case (Saopaseuth v. Phavongkham) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 rear end collision.  The Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries which recovered within 10 weeks.  Several weeks later the Plaintiff started experiencing numbness in his right leg which was diagnosed as meralgia paresthetica.  Given the time lapse of onset of symptoms the trial largely focused on whether these were related to the crash and ultimately the Court concluded they were.   The symptoms had a favorable prognosis for full recovery and in assessing non-pecuniary damages at $30,000 Mr. Justice Bernard provided the following reasons:
[56]         Mr. Saopaseuth is a 50-year old single man, with no dependents, who, immediately following the MVA, suffered from acute pain and discomfort in his chest, neck and back. He responded well to physiotherapy and these injuries resolved within eight-to-ten weeks. In this relatively short period he took time away from work and managed his household with some assistance from his friends. Mr. Saopaseuth leads a relatively simple and quiet life.  There is no evidence that these injuries caused great personal suffering or had a dramatically negative impact upon his lifestyle and relationships.
[57]         Mr. Saopaseuth began to suffer from MP in his right leg in or about early May 2011; since then it has persisted. The MP has been an irritant and a worry in this protracted period; however, there is no evidence that it has significantly affected his lifestyle or his relationships.
[58]         Significantly, since early 2014 Mr. Saopaseuth has experienced considerable amelioration of his MP, and Dr. Armstrong was pleased to learn of it. It is consistent with Dr. Armstrong’s opinion that Mr. Saopaseuth’s condition is treatable with rehabilitative therapy, although Mr. Saopaseuth has yet to be treated specifically for SPRD…
[60]         Each of the aforementioned cases is, in material aspects, distinguishable from the instant case; nonetheless, they offer a helpful guideline for the assessment of Mr. Saopaseuth’s damages. Taking into account the nature and duration of Mr. Saopaseuth’s various injuries, the relatively modest impact they have had upon him, his relationships, and his lifestyle, and his very favourable prospects for either significant improvement or full recovery from his MP, I assess his non-pecuniary damages at $30,000.