In a recent Supreme Court ruling, a judge has made it very clear that the courts are not in favour of the new ICBC litigation strategy that has been implemented over the past few months. Justice Neena Sharma gave a scathing oral opinion on a case she said was “ripe for settlement” yet was taken to trial anyway. Not only was she angry that ICBC wasted the court’s time, but she further said that she would have awarded more in costs to the plaintiff if she had been able to.
The “Dumpster Fire” Brawl Continues
Since ICBC implemented its new “cost containment” negotiation strategy, law firms in Prince George and the surrounding areas have been forced to take more cases to court than ever before. Personal injury lawyers in Prince George are seeing clients being offered insultingly low settlement offers regardless of claim legitimacy. In this case, ICBC made an offer of $30,000 for a case that involved a model plaintiff, Ms. Su Mien Tsai, who suffered significant personal injury due to obvious and admitted negligence by the defendant. In December 2018, Tsai’s lawyer had offered to settle out of court for $63,000 and was flat-out refused. Judge Sharma’s ruling awarded Tsai $68,000 for pain and suffering,
$5,080 for future care and $6,729 for special damages for a total of nearly $80,000. In her oral decision, she fumes that the trial was wastefully expensive to taxpayers and completely unnecessary. More judges have been giving harsh oral opinions on similar cases recently in an effort to voice their displeasure about the new negotiating tactics of ICBC.
ICBC Defends Its Stance
Lawyers in Prince George and across BC have said that they believe the Crown’s approach to mitigating their financial crisis is misguided. Some even go so far as to call it “hard-nosed bullying” of claimants. However, ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman says that he was, “perplexed by the comments made by Justice Sharma” regarding Su Mien Tsai’s case. He acknowledges that the claim should have been settled but says that, “more than 99.5 percent” of ICBC claims are settled outside of the courtroom. In response to lawyers in Prince George and elsewhere criticizing ICBC’s hyper-aggressive tactics, Grossman pointed out that ICBC had, “fewer trials than in any prior year in the last decade.” In spite of these statements, it’s clear that judges and lawyers in BC are going to continue to push back against ICBC’s intransigence.