BC Supreme Court denies double costs, finds plaintiff's rejection of settlement reasonable

The case involves a damages claim after the plaintiff was struck by the defendant's pickup truck

BC Supreme Court denies double costs, finds plaintiff's rejection of settlement reasonable

In a recent personal injury case, the BC Supreme Court denied the defendants' application for double costs, citing the plaintiff’s rejection of a settlement offer that exceeded the trial award.

The dispute in Makara v Peter, 2024 BCSC 975, involved a personal injury claim by the plaintiff, who was struck by a pick-up truck driven by the defendant in Langley, British Columbia. The incident occurred on a dark, rainy night on an unlit roadway. The plaintiff, dressed in dark clothing, was walking on the roadway when he was hit, suffering severe injuries, including a traumatic brain injury.

The plaintiff claimed negligence on the part of the defendant, asserting that he was not keeping a proper lookout, driving at excessive speeds, and using low-beam headlights instead of high-beam headlights. The plaintiff sought damages for his injuries but failed to persuade the court of the defendant’s negligence, resulting in no damages being awarded.

The defendants formally offered to settle for $175,000 plus costs and disbursements, which the plaintiff refused. The trial concluded with the court finding no negligence on the defendant's part, dismissing the plaintiff’s claim, and awarding costs to the defendants.

Following the trial, the defendants sought double costs from the date of their settlement offer to the end of the trial, arguing that the plaintiff’s refusal to accept the offer was unreasonable.

The Supreme Court outlined the legal principles governing double costs, emphasizing the need to encourage reasonable settlement offers while not penalizing litigants for pursuing meritorious claims. The court must consider whether the settlement offer ought reasonably to have been accepted.

The court found that the offer of $175,000 was not one that the plaintiff “ought reasonably to have accepted,” given the low amount relative to the plaintiff’s claimed damages exceeding $3 million. The court noted that the litigation involved complex issues, including differing expert opinions on whether the use of high or low-beam headlights was appropriate given the weather conditions at the time of the accident.

The court highlighted that the defendants’ position, which relied on general recommendations for low beam use in heavy rain, did not account for the case's specific circumstances. The court concluded that the plaintiff’s rejection of the settlement offer was not unreasonable, as the issues of liability and the severity of the rain were genuine disputes.

Ultimately, the court denied the defendants’ application for double costs, noting that the offer did not represent a significant compromise given the high value of the plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff’s claim was not seen as frivolous, and the rejection of the offer did not warrant a punitive measure of double costs.

Recent articles & video

There are tools to fight 'deep fakes' but there are limitations, OBA webinar attendees told

Alberta Court of Appeal to reconsider decision on disciplinary costs for regulatory bodies

BC Supreme Court awards damages despite credibility and pre-existing condition concerns

Ontario Superior Court requires father to undergo counseling before resuming parenting time

Ontario Court of Appeal increases fine for Dairy Queen in workplace injury case

BC Supreme Court denies application to sue on behalf of father's estate

Most Read Articles

Support orders not automatically spent if ‘child of marriage’ hits age of majority: BC appeal court

US federal judge upholds law suspending 97-year-old appeals judge

BC Supreme Court partially varies will to ensure fair estate distribution

Ontario Superior Court approves settlement in mortgage renewal class action