$1.8 million diminished earning capacity for non-working plaintiff.

On May 20, 2014, the BC Supreme Court addressed the difficult problem of assessing damages for a lifetime of disability for a plaintiff who has not yet entered the workforce. In Hermanson v. Durkee, 2014 BCSC 877, the plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle collision and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury which rendered him competitively unemployable.  He was 18 at the time, had just graduated high school and had not entered the workforce.   He “did not excel academically” and “it became apparently that post-secondary education was not likely or realistic“. The court had to assess...

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Mediation discussions not always confidential.

On May 8, 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada carved out an important exception to the promise to keep mediation discussions confidential. Companies and their insurers rely on private mediators to settle lawsuits partly because what is discussed at mediation stays confidential. This ensures that business strategy stays under wraps and public scandal for mistakes is avoided. In 2011, Bombardier and Union Carbide tried to settle a decade-long $32,000,000 court battle through mediation. In 1997, 1998 and 2003, Bombardier bought gas tanks from Union Carbide to use in Sea-Doo personal watercraft. In...

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A release will not be enforced if it is against public policy.

On April 30, 2014, the BC Court of Appeal ruled in Niedermeyer v. Charlton [2014] B.C.J. No. 763, that a release signed by a plaintiff participating in a zip line activity did not defeat her claim for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision on the defendant zip line operator’s bus travelling from the zipline area. The release was contrary to public policy, which did not allow an owner/operator of a motor vehicle to contract out of liability for damages for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident.. The plaintiff appealed the decision of the lower court, which at summary...

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Is there a duty to take cannabis?

A 2014 judgment of the Supreme Court of British Columbia illustrates just how far the debate has swung on the issue of marijuana as medicine. The judgment of Gelsby v. MacMillan (March 4, 2014, BC Supreme Court) was a routine personal injury case in many respects. The plaintiff, Jessica Glesby was injured in a motor vehicle accident, suffered various injuries, and went to trial on the issue of the “assessment of damages” (how much money would she receive for her injuries). The arguments raised by both parties were for the most part not out of the ordinary, with the defendant’s arguing that...

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Did Manulife make “deliberately false” statements?

On January 16, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rejected an application by Manulife Financial to dismiss the action against it in Sells v. Manulife, 2014 ONSC 715. The judgment is found at: Sells v Manulife, 2014 ONSC 715. The plaintiffs in this action are former agents of Manulife. Their essential claim for their damages against Manulife is that Manulife made very serious but false and misleading statements regarding the plaintiffs’ work and practices while with Manulife which Manulife knew or ought to have known would make it impossible for the plaintiffs to obtain new...

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Pension benefits not deducted from wrongful dismissal damages.

In a decision released in 2013, IBM Canada Limited v. Waterman (“Waterman”), the Supreme Court of Canada decided that an employee was entitled to keep his pension benefits as well as the full damages awarded to him for wrongful dismissal over the same period of time. Background After 42 years of service, and at the age of 65, Richard Waterman (“Mr. Waterman”) was terminated by IBM Canada Limited (“IBM”). He was only provided with 2 months notice. At the time of termination Mr. Waterman was entitled to a full pension pursuant to IBM’s defined benefit pension plan. Over the course of his...

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