Tag: Tambosso v. Holmes

"Reprehensible" Conduct Results in Special Costs Order Against Plaintiff Following Injury Trial

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, ordering a Plaintiff to pay ICBC special costs following ‘reprehensible‘ conduct.
In today’s case (Tambosso v. Holmes) the Plaintiff was injured in two collisions and sued for damages.  Prior to trial the Plaintiff received $36,895 in tort advances from ICBC.  After a largely unsuccessful prosecution the trial damages awarded were slightly less than this resulting in a ‘zero judgement’  award.   As a result the Plaintiff was ordered to pay the Defendant costs.
The Court went further, however, and ordered that the costs be increased to special costs as a result of the Plaintiff’s conduct.  In reaching this decision Mr. Justice Jenkins provided the following reasons:

[33]         Commencing at para. 52 of my reasons for judgment in this matter, I embarked upon my findings related to the credibility of the plaintiff. Previously in those reasons I had come to a conclusion that the plaintiff’s evidence regarding the “triggering event” causing her alleged PTSD and other psychological concerns had not happened. To be clear, the event in which the plaintiff claimed she feared for her life and had to jump out of the way of the vehicle driven by the defendant Holmes, as per her evidence that “his eyes are imprinted on my mind” and “I thought he was going to kill me, drive over me…” did not occur. Her evidence in this respect was contradicted by the independent witness who stated she had not exited her vehicle, as well as by the evidence of the plaintiff’s friend and passenger that the plaintiff had exited her vehicle but had taken only a few steps before jumping back into their vehicle before the Holmes vehicle came up the hill and passed the plaintiff’s vehicle. I found it most likely the plaintiff learned of the look in Mr. Holmes eyes from the independent witness, Jeremy Leal, who was in close proximity to Mr. Holmes immediately after the accident.

[34]         The plaintiff repeated her false version of the events of the 2008 accident to several of the expert witnesses who testified at trial which led those experts to come to opinions as to the plaintiff suffering PTSD and other cognitive damage as a result of the interaction with Mr. Holmes. The deception by the plaintiff continued for several years up to and including the trial.

[35]         In addition, my reasons for judgment at trial referred to clear conflicts between the evidence of the plaintiff and the video surveillance recorded by the defence, her evidence that she was not able to drive after the 2008 accident which conflicted with her driving of a rental car within days of the accident for several months, her Facebook postings, and her evidence at trial which was selective, inconsistent, completely uncooperative, non-responsive and simply false. The plaintiff’s evidence on cross-examination resulted in me coming to a conclusion that she had deliberately lied to her disability insurer, to Community Futures where she was paid for attempting a business development plan, to Canada Pension Plan staff and more, all of which resulted in her maintaining an income from the time of the 2008 accident up to trial in 2014. The plaintiff would declare in one instance that she was disabled from the 2008 accident and when convenient to keep funds coming her way would declare she was not disabled by that accident.

[36]         The conduct of the plaintiff which must be considered most outrageous and reprehensible for the purposes of a special costs award were the circumstances under which her former friend, Rebecca Aldous, came to be a witness at trial for the defence. Those circumstances are described commencing at para. 188 of my reasons for judgment, which included reference to a voice mail message left by the plaintiff two days before Ms. Aldous was to testify. That message can only be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate Ms. Aldous from testifying. Why the plaintiff would leave a voice mail message of that nature which could and did come back to haunt her is a mystery; however, it is reflective of the behaviour of the plaintiff throughout the trial.

[37]         I have no doubt that the actions of the plaintiff at trial and outside the courtroom have amounted to an ongoing effort to deceive the court which conduct deserves rebuke.

[38]         I agree with the principles in awarding special costs listed by Madam Justice Gropper in Westsea Construction Ltd. A court must show restraint and must be satisfied of special circumstances to justify the award. The conduct rationalizing an award of special costs must also be “reprehensible”. Those principles are present in this case and are supported by the conduct of the plaintiff detailed in the reasons for judgment for the trial and earlier in these reasons.

[39]         The defence is entitled to special costs to be taxed by the registrar, such costs as incurred by the defence from the commencement of each action until the conclusion of the trial.

Facebook Posts Derail Personal Injury Claim

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Chilliwack Registry, rejecting aspects of a personal injury claim in part due to postings from the Plaintiff’s Facebook page.
In today’s case (Tambosso v. Holmes) the Plaintiff was involved in two collisions.   The Plaintiff claimed significant injuries and sued for damages.  Mr. Justice Jenkins accepted the Plaintiff suffered some injury in the collisions but largely rejected the Plaintiff’s claim.  In doing so the Court relied heavily on the Plaintiff’s postings on Facebook  which the Court found were “completely inconsistent with the evidence the plaintiff gave at trial”.  Mr. Justice Jenkins provided the following reasons:

[170]     Throughout her evidence, the plaintiff testified that as a result of the PTSD and stress suffered as a result of the aftermath of the 2008 accident, her life completely changed from that of a vibrant, outgoing, industrious, ambitious, physically active, progressive and healthy young woman to that of a housebound, depressed, lethargic, forgetful, unmotivated woman who is unable to concentrate, cannot work, has friends only on the internet and whose “life sucks”.

[171]     One hundred and ninety-four pages of Facebook entries from her Facebook page posted between May 7, 2007and July, 2011 were entered in evidence following an order for production by Master Tokarek in August 2011. There are extensive status updates, photographs, and other posts to the plaintiff’s Facebook page that at face value appear to directly contradict her evidence regarding her alleged injuries, and her state of mind following the 2008 accident in particular. All of the posts were included in Ex. 1, Tab 1.

[172]     It was submitted in argument that persons posting the events of their life on social media tend to post positive events and activities to portray themselves as “social” and avoid posting negative thoughts, events and news. There is no opinion evidence to support this submission, but I nonetheless approach the Facebook evidence with caution. However, even given potential frailties with this evidence I find there are numerous examples that buttress my findings on the plaintiff’s credibility.

[173]     Examples of postings of the plaintiff on Facebook which conflict with the evidence of the plaintiff are many; I highlight some examples which are included in the Facebook pages found at Ex. 1, Tab 1:

a)    The plaintiff testified that she loved her position as front desk manager at the Summit Lodge and Spa, was performing well and putting in extra hours, was intending to make a career out of work in the hospitality industry and expected to be able to manage the hotel or other hotels in the future. Her  manager for most of her time at the Summit, Ms. Camilla Say, was not so complimentary, saying the plaintiff was “great initially at fulfilling her duties”, started to struggle towards the end of winter as the job was high stress and by the spring of 2008 she “was not enjoying the job” and “was moody, short tempered”. Ms. Say continued that there had been staff complaints, “she was gone at times” and as to whether the plaintiff was management material, Ms. Say’s response was “she was fairly young, not loving the hours, and therefore would say she is not management material”. Facebook postings by the plaintiff reflected the stress of the job, and included posts on February 5, 2008 that she “is feeling over worked and under…”, on February 9, 2008 that she “could duplicate herself so work would be easier…” and on May 16, 2008 that she “is wishing work didn’t interfere with life…” These Facebook postings reflect the evidence of Ms. Say, not the trial evidence of Ms. Tambosso.

Facebook postings indicated that the plaintiff quickly returned to join her friends in social events following the 2008 accident. On July 29, 2008 and August 6, 2008, mere weeks after the 2008 accident, Ms. Tambosso was tagged in photo albums entitled “Kerri’s Stagette” and “Kerri’s Stag Part 2” that depict her drinking with friends and river tubing near Penticton. Similarly, numerous posts from October 2008 indicate the plaintiff eagerly anticipated and attended a Halloween party, including her RSVP message to the event page which stated “Yeah Party! You guys have the best parties. I’ll be there  . . . with bells on!  xoxoxo Sarah”, posts back and forth with friends discussing the upcoming party, and two photo albums posted November 1, 2008 and November 4, 2008 both entitled “Halloween2008” by Adrienne Greenwood depicting the plaintiff dressed in costume at a party with friends. The plaintiff also posted a status update on November 1, 2008 the following day that she “is chillin’ on the home front after a crazy week”. This directly contradicts the plaintiff’s testimony that in the weeks following the 2008 accident “I went to a bad place in my brain”, “that time really sucked” and “I knew something was really wrong.” It also contradicts her evidence to Dr. Rasmussen that she forced herself to attend these events in order to combat feelings of discouragement and withdrawal, and that her enjoyment of these activities was “limited”. She also appears to have attended numerous other events during that time period, but as these are only evidenced by confirmed Facebook event RSVPs and status updates rather than photographs, I will not place as much weight on those events.

b)    Postings by the plaintiff to her Facebook page continued through 2009 however indicated a much less active social life. The plaintiff acknowledged it was during a period when she was having a very difficult pregnancy which, from the plaintiff’s description, did interfere with her social life, and was also the time of the alleged assault by Mr. Dyer following which the police were involved and soon thereafter the engagement and close relationship between them ended. It strikes me as odd that the plaintiff’s social media activity during this time seems to directly correspond with her reported life circumstances and state of mind, ie. she was having a difficult time so she was less active on Facebook, but her Facebook activity did not appear to diminish immediately following the 2008 accident, despite her testimony that this was a very dark time in her life and the evidence that this was the triggering incident for the PTSD that was diagnosed by the various experts.

c)     The plaintiff’s Facebook posts continued through 2010 and 2011with somewhat less frequency and enthusiasm than the 2008 posts, though it is natural that a person raising a small child would have to make adjustments to her social activities compared to the extent of her social life prior to her pregnancy. What is notable is that the plaintiff still continued to have relatively numerous posts from friends and photos of events she attended, and there was no notable change in the Facebook activity or posts immediately following the 2010 accident on September 3. I can only make conjectural conclusions from this evidence, so I will not place significant weight on the 2010 posts, but I nonetheless note the absence of a change to her social media behaviour following the 2010 accident.

[174]     I conclude that based on this Facebook evidence, in particular the photos of continued attendance at social events and posts from friends, that the plaintiff had a very active social life following the 2008 and 2010 accidents. The social life portrayed by her Facebook profile is consistent with the social life of someone who went through three engagements, the birth of a child, and a marriage. It is completely inconsistent with the evidence the plaintiff gave at trial and to the experts that she was a “homebody” whose “life sucked” and “only had friends on the internet”.

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

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.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

Disclaimer