Tag: Scale C Costs

Scale C Costs Awarded Following Injury Prosecution "Of More Than Ordinary Difficulty"

Reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, illustrating circumstances when increased “scale c” costs are appropriate.
In the recent case (Wallman v. Doe) the Plaintiff suffered a disabling brain injury following a motor vehicle collision and was awarded damages following a lengthy trial.  The Plaintiff was awarded costs on Scale C and in finding this increased scale was appropriate Mr. Justice Weatherill provided the following reasons:
6]             By any measure, this was a complex case that, although courteously and cooperatively fought, was nevertheless hard fought with little, if anything, conceded. The defendants’ position throughout was that the plaintiff’s alleged brain injury was not real. The trial occupied 29 days. Forty‑three witnesses were called by the parties, including 16 engineering and medical experts. Sixteen expert reports were exchanged.
[7]             The engineering experts provided opinions regarding the biomechanics of and the acceleration and other forces imparted upon a human body during a rear‑end collision, mechanical engineering, accident reconstruction, and Monte Carlo simulations to predict the probability of various accident scenarios.
[8]             The medical expert evidence included opinions of psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, a neuro‑opthalmologist, physiatrist and a speech pathologist.
[9]             In addition, there was expert evidence from occupational therapists, rehabilitation and vocational consultants, and economists.
[10]         The defendants conducted several pre‑trial examinations of nine witnesses, conducted two and a half days of examinations for discovery of the plaintiff, during which he was asked 2,669 questions. Considerable steps were taken by the parties in an effort to prove or disprove the plaintiff’s claim that he had suffered a mild traumatic brain injury during the accident. Most, if not all, of the expert evidence was focused on whether the plaintiff sustained a mild traumatic brain injury as a result of a relatively minor rear‑end impact during the accident.
[11]         In addition, there were several pre‑trial applications, most of which were of ordinary difficulty, but one involved the plaintiff’s successful motion to strike the defendants’ jury notice on the basis that the case had become complex and would be too lengthy for a jury to retain the evidence. This application was the subject of two hearings in the Court of Appeal.
[12]         In my view, this action was plainly one of more‑than‑ordinary difficulty. The plaintiff is entitled to an award of costs at Scale C.
 

ICBC Denied Double Costs Despite Significantly Besting Formal Settlement Offer

(Update February 9, 2012 – the below decision is under appeal with the BCCA granting leave to appeal on February 9, 2012)

Last year highly publicized reasons for judgement were released assessing damages at $5.9 million for a lawyer who sustained a traumatic brain injury during a dance floor incident.   Despite the headline making award, only a fraction of the damages were recoverable due to the limits of the responsible insurer.  In what may be the final chapter of this long legal saga, reasons for judgement were released addressing costs.
As was widely reported, the Plaintiff was injured in a dance floor incident and successfully sued another lawyer that knocked her down causing her brain injury.  The reason why ICBC played a role is because the Plaintiff was involved in a subsequent car crash.  She sued the motorist for damages claiming the crash aggravated her brain injury.  Prior to trial ICBC made a formal settlement offer of $500,000.  The Plaintiff countered at $1.9 million.   Ultimately her allegations that the crash aggravated the brain injury were rejected and damages of just over $10,000 were awarded for the car crash.
ICBC asked the the Court to award them double costs under Rule 9-1.  Despite ICBC’s success in relation to their formal settlement offer and despite concerns about aspects of the Plaintiff’s trial testimony, Mr. Justice Kelleher declined to award ICBC double costs.  In today’s case (Danicek v. Li) the Court provided the following reasons:
[38] Considering all the factors, I conclude that there should be no award of double costs.  The plaintiff suffered, I found, career ending injuries.  I cannot say it was unreasonable to decline the offer.  Although I considered Ms. Danicek to be less than candid, I conclude on a consideration of all factors that no double costs award should be made.
Despite this, the Court did go on to award Costs and Disbursements at Scale C (the highest scale).  In reaching this decision Mr. Justice Kelleher provided the following Reasons:

[40] Counsel agree that the relevant factors for determining whether Scale C costs should be awarded include:

–       the length of trial;

–       the complexity of issues involved;

–       the number and the complexity of pre-trial applications;

–       whether the action was hard fought with little conceded;

–       the number and length of examinations for discovery;

–       the number and complexity of expert reports; and

–       the extent of the effort required in the collection and proof of facts.

See: Mort v. Saanich School Board, 2001 BCSC 1473 at para. 6; 566935 B.C. Ltd. v. Allianz Insurance Co. of Canada, 2005 BCSC 3032 at para. 7.

[41] Based on these criteria, there will be an award at Scale C.

[42] The trial was 29 days.  A central issue was whether the plaintiff’s symptoms would have resolved but for the motor vehicle accident.  There were reports and/or testimony from physiatrists, neurologists, psychiatrists and others.  The plaintiff alone relied on 21 expert reports.

[43] The action was complex. There were some seven parties involved. The plaintiff was examined for discovery on eleven occasions over several years. There were a number of applications both prior to and during the trial.  This case bears similarity to Graham v. Marek, 2002 BCSC 214; Ramcharitar v. Gill, 2007 BCSC 1268; and Mosher v. Sedens Estate, [1998] B.C.J. No. 2822.

[44] I have considered Hussack v. School District No. 33 (Chilliwack), 2010 BCSC 304, and Radke, when costs at Scale B were awarded.

[45] Hussack was a 23-day trial.  However, the liability issue was not complex; there were only four pre-trial applications and none was complicated.  The examination for discovery of the plaintiff was one full day and three half days.  There was one plaintiff and one defendant.

[46] In Radke, Madam Justice Boyd cited these circumstances in concluding that the matter was not a matter of “more than ordinary difficulty” (at para. 26):

[26]      The one circumstance which I agree made this case somewhat unusual was the fact that the defendant apparently took a very heavy interest in this case, to the point of following her neighbour (the plaintiff) about and gathering evidence to challenge her claims of disability.  In response the plaintiff’s counsel apparently conducted an in- depth investigation of the defendant, including her history of unusual behaviour in the neighbourhood, so as to challenge her own credibility and reliability.  The trial was settled before that evidence was heard.

[47] The complexity of this matter is well beyond what was before the Court in Hussack and Radke.


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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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