At issue in Applicant and Aviva (2018 Can LII 13190) was whether attendant care was payable for the period of time before the Claimant submitted a Form 1.
The Claimant was injured in a July 1, 2014 accident and sought attendant care expenses in the amount of $1,424.24 per month for the period July 14, 2014 to March 30, 2015. The Claimant Form 1 was not provided to the insurer until October 31, 2014. The Insurer agreed to fund the attendant care for the period after the Form 1 was submitted, but refused to fund the attendant care for the time period before the Form 1 was submitted. Aviva submitted that entitlement arose when it received the Form 1.
The Adjudicator found in favour of Aviva and determined entitlement arose the date the Form 1 was received on the basis of Section 42(5) of the SABS. The Adjudicator noted that the Claimant had opted to provide no submissions refuting Aviva’s position and did not provide any evidence indicating the Form 1 was received earlier. He indicated that incurring attendant care treatment does not automatically entitle an Insured to attendant care benefits. Pursuant to section 19 of the SABS, it is the reasonableness and necessity for attendant care services which entitle an insured to the benefit.
In Dunk v. Kremer, the 18 year old Plaintiff (Respondent at Appeal) was injured in a motor vehicle accident and suffered a tibia fracture and right talus bone fracture requiring surgery. At trial, the jury awarded damages for future loss of income and cost of medical care, as well as $225,000.00 in general damages. The Defendant (Appellant at Appeal) appealed, among other things, the amount of the general damages award.
Ultimately, the Court of Appeal dismissed the Appeal, noting that the matter was in the trial judge’s discretion and the general damages award was not so inordinately high as to call for appellant intervention. The Court noted the Plaintiff’s young age at the time of the accident, the years of pain she had suffered, the impact of the accident on her day-to-day activities and future plans, as well as that her accident-related injuries were going to cause her significant and serious long-term pain and impairment.
This case also addresses expert reports under Rule 53. Briefly, the Defendant did not indicate they would be calling their expert and provided an unsigned copy of the expert’s report. After hearing the evidence of the Plaintiff’s expert, the Defendant moved for an order permitting it to call their expert. The trial judge ruled that the expert could be called, but that he would be restricted to the four corners of his report and would not be permitted to comment on developments that had arisen after he had prepared his report. This prevented the Defendant expert from commenting on the likelihood that the Plaintiff would develop arthritis in the future that would leave her “quite disabled”. The Defendant appealed on the basis that the ruling prevented their expert from commenting on the oral evidence of the Plaintiff’s expert. Ultimately, the Court dismissed this aspect of the appeal and highlighted that the situation was largely the fault of the Defendant.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
In Persampieri v. Hobbs, the Plaintiff was rear-ended by the Defendant and brought a tort claim for damages. Following a two week trial, the jury awarded net damages of $20,414.83. However, this case is significant for the costs award – roughly 12 times the amount awarded in damages!
Several months before trial, on March 21, 2017, the Plaintiff served a rule 49 Offer to Settle the action for $20,000.00, plus partial indemnity fees and disbursements. On May 15, 2017, about two weeks before trial, the Plaintiff served a further Rule 49 offer for $10,000.00, plus partial indemnity costs. Comparing the Offers to the jury award, the Plaintiff clearly “beat” the award. At the costs hearing, the Plaintiff sought the usual cost consequences under Rule 49.01(1). The Defence adamantly argued that to order costs as sought by the Plaintiff would be unreasonable and not proportional to the net award.
Justice Sanderson thought otherwise. According to Justice Sanderson, “to let proportionality be the overriding, or even the predominant factor, would be grossly unfair to the Plaintiff and would be to reward the uncompromising, and, (in the light of the jury verdict) unreasonable behaviour of the insurer.” She noted the Insurer took a hard line, despite admitting liability. From day one, the Insurer took the position that it had assessed the case on its merits and was not willing to offer even $1.00 towards settlement. The Insurer never budged from this aggressive stance.
Justice Sanderson noted that, in this case, the party trying to rely on the proportionality principle was a sophisticated insurer that had made a tactical decision to reject a Plaintiff’s Rule 49 Offer understanding the risk in costs that it was taking by doing so. Furthermore, because the Insurer had framed its defence in the manner that it had, it knew that the resolution of the issues at trial would involve the hearing of lengthy and costly evidence.
Ultimately, Justice Sanderson found no reason to depart from the usual cost consequences of Rule 49.01(1) and found the Plaintiff entitled to her costs on the partial indemnity scale to May 15, 2017, and to her costs on the substantial indemnity scale thereafter. The Court ordered costs of $237,017.50 – almost 12 times the net of the jury award!
This case is a serious warning to Insurers that “playing hardball” could well expose them to significant adverse cost consequences at trial, even where they are successful in limiting the plaintiff’s recovery to a very modest amount.
The decision is also notable for its thorough review of the case law on costs.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
The Ontario Superior Court recently released a decision finding an injured Plaintiff did not meet threshold on the basis that a “disabling” impairment to the left shoulder was not causally related to the accident.
In Grieves v. Parsons, the Plaintiff was injured in a motorcycle accident on July 24, 2012. The Plaintiff sought past and future income loss and general damages for pain and suffering and loss of employment of life. The Defendants had previously admitted liability.
The primary issue was whether the Plaintiff’s impairments were caused by the accident or by other medical conditions that would have developed even if the Plaintiff had not been injured in the accident.
While the jury was deliberating, the Defendants brought a “threshold motion” for a declaration that the Plaintiff’s claim for general damages was barred on the basis that the Plaintiff had failed to establish that, as a result of the accident, he had sustained a permanent, serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function.
After hearing the evidence, the jury awarded $61,000.00 for past income, $90,000.00 for future loss earnings (substantially less than the $738,000.00 to $866,000.00 that was claimed by the Plaintiff) and $50,000.00 for general damages. With respect to the threshold motion, Justice Charney considered the fact that the jury verdict reflected a result much closer to the position advanced by the Defence than to the position of the Plaintiff
Both parties presented expert evidence with respect to causation and threshold. The Plaintiff’s expert testified the Plaintiff’s ongoing symptoms were attributable to the accident and that the Plaintiff had sustained a permanent, serious impairment. However, Justice Charney preferred the evidence of the Defence’s expert that the Plaintiff ongoing symptoms were not related to the index accident.
Ultimately, Justice Charney concluded the Plaintiff did not meet threshold, stating that the evidence supported the Defence’s position that the Plaintiff stopped working in May 2017 because of pain in his left shoulder and that that pain was the result of left shoulder osteoarthritis that first presented itself prior to the index accident.
In Sacks v. Ross, the Ontario Court of Appeal dealt with how to apply the causation test in medical negligence cases involving multiple tortfeasors.
Sacks suffered serious injuries arising from complications after a routine bowel surgery. An anastomotic leak occurred after surgery, which spilled into his abdominal cavity, but the discovery of the leak was delayed, and by the time treatment started, he was in septic shock. Ultimately, he was in a coma for several weeks and his legs were both amputated.
At trial, Sacks put forth that the delay and treatment caused his injuries, which were the result of cumulative errors made by the respondents, a team of doctors, nurses and Sunnybrook Hospital, who treated him after his bowel surgery. The respondents argued that the delay in diagnosis did not cause Sacks’ injuries – his injuries were actually caused by flesh eating disease, which could not have been diagnosed or treated when it first arose.
At trial, the jury found five of the defendants breached their respective standards of care, but none of the breaches caused the injuries. Sacks appealed, arguing that the trial proceeded on a mistaken understanding of the appropriate causation test, evidenced by improper jury questions and instructions. Sacks argued that in cases involving multiple tortfeasors, a “global but for” test for causation should apply.
Ultimately, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The Court followed the prior Clements decision, where the Supreme Court found that the “but for” test also applies in complex, multiple tortfeasor, negligence cases.
The Sacks decision is significant for the Court’s discussion of the causation test and how it should be applied in complex negligence cases. The Court reminded that the normal causal reasoning process follows three steps:
Step one: what likely happened in actuality – whether the delay in treatment led to the plaintiff’s injury?
Step two: what would have happened if the defendant had not breached their standard of care?
Step three: allocate fault amount the negligent defendants
The analysis requires the jury to analyze each event in the sequence of events, while ignoring any decision it might have made with respect to an earlier event.
To reflect the causal reasoning process, the court recommended framing the jury questions as follows:
- Have the Plaintiffs proven, on a balance of probabilities, that a delay in treatment caused Sack’s injuries?
- If yes to #1, have the Plaintiffs proven, on a balance of probabilities, that the delay resulting from [this defendant’s] breach of the standard of care caused or contributed to the injuries of Sacks?
- If yes to #2, how did [this defendant] breach the standard of care?
Importantly, question #1 only asks the trier of fact to consider what the plaintiff needed by way of timely diagnosis and treatment in order to avoid injury, without considering the presence or absence of any breaches of the standard of care. In contract, question #2 determines fault.
See Sacks v. Ross , 2017 ONCA 773 (CanLII)[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
In the FSCO Appeal Decision of State Farm and Sabadash (P16-00029), Director’s Delegate Evans conducts a thorough analysis of the key jurisprudence on causation in Canada of the key causation decisions: Athey v. Leonati (1996 S.C.C.), Resurfice Corp v. Hanke (2007 S.C.C.)., Clements v. Clements (2012 S.C.C.) and Monks v. ING Insurance Co. (2008 Ont. C.A.) and confirms that the “but for” test is the primary causation test for SABS litigation.
Delegate Evans set out that the “material contribution to risk” test could still be applied but only once the claimant passed the “but for” test, such that there can be no fallback to use the “material contribution” test if the claimant fails the “but for” test. As a result, the “material contribution” test only becomes relevant in the rare circumstances where an accident alone and a pre-existing condition alone could have directly caused an impairment. Similarly, the de minimis test may only play a role after the “but for” test has been answered in the affirmative.
While this decision provides some much needed clarity for decisions where causation is in dispute, it may not be the final word on the subject since the claimant in Agyapong v. Jevco has filed for Judicial Review.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
In MK v Dumfries Mutual, LAT adjudicator Jeanie Theoharis stated that “in arbitration hearings an Applicant’s credibility is vital, particularly where there are competing medical opinions”.
The adjudicator looked closely at the Applicant’s self-reports, surveillance, the clinical notes and records of the Applicant’s treating doctors and the content and quality of assessor’s reports for internal consistency and consistency with known facts. The adjudicator found there was a contradiction between surveillance and the statement given by the Applicant; that the Applicant’s psychological assessment was unreliable; and, that the Applicant’s self-reports were not supported by the records of her treating doctors.
Ultimately the adjudicator held that the Applicant’s injuries fall within the Minor Injury Guideline and that she is not entitled to income replacement benefits.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]