$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Damages for Subacromial Impingement
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, discussing non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) for an injury causing chronic shoulder impingement.
In today’s case (De Gaye v. Bhullar) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2005 collision in Surrey, BC. The Defendant ran a red light and struck the Plaintiff’s vehicle with considerable force. Fault for the crash was admitted. The trial focussed on the value of the Plaintiff’s claim.
The Plaintiff sustained various injuries, the most serious of which was subacromial impingement to his left shoulder.
Madam Justice Bruce assessed non-pecuniary damages at $70,000 and in doing so made the following findings:
 While the expert medical opinions are unanimous that Mr. De Gaye also suffered a left shoulder injury during the accident when he struck the seatbelt harness, there is a dispute as to whether the muscle and ligament damage included thoracic outlet syndrome. Dr. Vaisler and Dr. Stewart-Patterson believe that Mr. De Gaye has a shoulder impingement that would be best managed by arthroscopic surgery followed by a three month recovery period with physiotherapy. Their clinical observations and physical examinations support this opinion. Dr. Vaisler and Dr. Stewart-Patterson also believe that the findings in the ultrasound report are consistent with a shoulder impingement and that this test corroborates their clinical observations. …
 On balance, I prefer the opinions of Dr. Stewart-Patterson and Dr. Vaisler. Their opinions are supported by physical tests and clinical observations over a combined period of almost three years between January 2007 and September 2009. While the cortisone injections have not relieved Mr. De Gaye’s pain, there is a significant failure rate in the accuracy of such injections and the ultrasound report suggests there is a mild shoulder impingement according to the opinions of Dr. Vaisler and Dr. Stewart-Patterson…
 While it is apparent that Mr. De Gaye’s loss of enjoyment of life, physical pain, and emotional suffering has continued for over five years since the accident, it is undeniable that the symptoms have drastically improved since March 2005. The back and neck pain reoccur infrequently with extended use or exercise. The primary injury remains the shoulder impingement; however, there is an 80% chance that arthroscopic surgery will relieve the pain symptoms even with repetitive use. The migraine headaches remain problematic but controllable with prescription medication.
 The cases cited by the parties are helpful because they show the range of possible damages for pain and suffering; however, each case must be decided on its own particular facts. In light of the length of time Mr. De Gaye has suffered from his injuries, the serious nature of those injuries and their significant impact on his recreational and work life, balanced against the improvements he has had over time and the high probability of successful surgery for his left shoulder, I find that an award of $70, 000 is appropriate in all the circumstances.