085452-scales-of-justice

A judge expressed his displeasure with ICBC by awarding special costs to a plaintiff.  The decision followed a jury trial decision in which the plaintiff was awarded less than what ICBC had offered.  Typically that will result in an award of costs against the plaintiff when as in this case the offer made by ICBC was a formal offer.  The judge declined to make that award and rather chose to award special costs to the plaintiff due to conduct on the part of ICBC.

Prior to the trial, the parties had attended a Trial Management Conference.  The plaintiff was aware that video surveillance had been taken of them and they sought and were provided with an order by the trial management conference that required ICBC to provide them with copies of all video surveillance that had been obtained.  This is in keeping with the general principle that the parties should not be faced with surprises at trial.  ICBC through their lawyer released some video surveillance evidence but it was discovered during the course of trial that not all of the evidence was provided to the plaintiff.  The evidence that was withheld was beneficial to the plaintiff.  Despite this, the trial continued and the jury ultimately awarded the plaintiff less than what ICBC had offered.

Generally what will follow such a result is that ICBC will be entitled to their costs from the date that they made the offer.  In this case however, the judge deprived ICBC of the costs that they may have been entitled to after the date of the offer and punished them with an award of special costs to the plaintiff in an amount equivalent to the contingency fee legal fees that the plaintiff would be paying their lawyer.   In doing so, the trial judge said as follows:

[78]  In sum, ICBC’s casual disregard for the disclosure rules, especially when reinforced by the October 20, 2015 Court Order, warrants rebuke in the form of an award of special costs.

This decision reinforces that all litigants in our court room, whether they are an individual or a government entity, are bound by  the same rules.  Those rules cannot be disregarded or the litigant will face consequences.