$573,000 punitive damages for BC employee.

In early 2012, a jury in Prince George, B.C. awarded a plaintiff approximately $809,000 in damages over a wrongful dismissal. Included in that amount is the largest punitive damages award in an employment law case in Canadian history. Larry Higginson worked at a sawmill in Burns Lake, B.C., for 34 years until October 2009, when he was fired without severance pay. Hampton Lumber Mills Inc., based in Portland, Ore., had acquired the sawmill from Babine Forest Products Inc. in November 2006. Higginson sued for wrongful dismissal, claiming he was terminated as an attempt to avoid paying...

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Communication with ICBC does NOT extend limitation period.

On March 29, 2012, the defendants in a personal injury action arising out of a motor vehicle accident obtained a summary dismissal of the plaintiff’s action on basis that it was barred by the expiration of the two year limitation period. In Field v. Harvey, 2012 BCSC 456, a judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court found that correspondence from ICBC did not postpone the running of time. On August 22, 2008, the plaintiff suffered injuries when her vehicle was in a collision with a cement truck owned by one of the defendants and operated by the other defendant. She alleged that the...

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$75,000 punitive damages for coverage denial.

In McDonald v. ICBC, 2012 BCSC 283,  the plaintiff was involved in a 2007 collision. She was at fault for the crash. She consumed two to three glasses of wine prior to operating a vehicle. As she was driving she “turned the wrong way into an oncoming van” causing a collision and injuries to the other motorist. The plaintiff was issued a 24 hour roadside suspension and charged criminally with dangerous driving and alcohol related offences. Eventually the criminal charges were dropped and the plaintiff plead guilty to careless driving pursuant to section 144 of BC’s Motor Vehicle Act. The...

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Claims administrator may owe a duty of good faith.

The New Brunswick Court of Queen’s bench held that where an insurer acts as a claims administration service only but makes decisions regarding the adjudication of claims, computation and issuance of benefits it owes a duty to the insured to act in good faith as it was adjudicating claims and benefits. As such, the traditional tort of intentional procurement of breach of contract is broad enough to capture bad faith actions by an adjuster that bring about the rejection of a meritorious claim for insurance benefits. In LeBlanc v. Atlantic Blue Cross Care, [2011] N.B.J. No. 446 (December...

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LTD claim reviewing MAY extend a limitation period.

An application by a long term disability insurer to dismiss a claim commenced by an insured on the basis that the claim was barred by the expiration of the limitation period. The application was dismissed and costs awarded to the plaintiff. In White v. Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. (c.o.b. Manulife), [2011] B.C.J. No. 2273, the plaintiff was insured for a long term disability benefits under a group policy issued by the defendant, Manulife Insurance. The plaintiff submitted an application for disability benefits on September 13, 2006. On July 12, 2007 Manulife advised the plaintiff that...

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