30 Jan Double Costs after Trial
The Rules of Court contain incentives to encourage parties to settle cases out of court. If a Plaintiff makes an offer to a Defendant in order to settle a case and that offer is rejected, the matter will proceed to trial. If the Court awards more damages at trial than the Plaintiff had previously offered to settle for, then the Court may award the Plaintiff double costs. This order is discretionary. The Court considers whether or not it was reasonable for the Defendant to reject the offer.
In Mayer v. Umabao, 2016 BCSC 2355, the Plaintiff offered to settle for $247,599.80 but the Defendant rejected this, offering to settle for $75,000. At trial, the Court awarded the Plaintiff $446,120.16 in damages.
The Plaintiff argued the defence liability assessment was very unrealistic. The Court accepted this argument.
The Defendant argued the case’s value was difficulty to assess. The Plaintiff’s memory problems, dizziness, decreased balanced and mood changes were disputed. Each party’s experts had different opinions. The Defendant argued these issues related to an unrelated stroke, rather than the collision.
The Court also noted this was an unusual case because it involved a substantial loss of earning capacity claim for a 69-year old.
Although the Court considered the defense liability assessment unrealistic, there were many contentious issues to be determined. As a result, the Court found that the Defendant’s refusal of the offer was not unreasonable. The Court found that the Defendant had sound reasons to reject the offer and the case needed to proceed to trial. As a result, the Court declined to order the Defendant pay the Plaintiff double costs.