16 Nov Financial Consequences of Suing the Wrong Person

In Harden v. Katerberg, 2016 BCSC 2066, the Plaintiff alleged she was injured while loading a horse onto a transport trailer. After the court documents were filed, the Plaintiff’s lawyer applied to add Ms. Katerberg as a Defendant. This hearing was adjourned on the eve of the hearing date. The Plaintiff’s claim against Ms. Katerberg was not well defined in the materials filed with the Court and her lawyer spent considerable time investigating the claim.  When it became clear to Ms. Katerberg’s lawyer that she should not be added as a Defendant, she sought special costs on her client’s behalf.  Courts sometimes order a party to pay special costs to reimburse the other party for their actual legal expenses.

The Court adjourned the special costs application, as well as a second hearing date to add Ms. Katerberg as a Defendant.  In the meantime, another lawyer assumed conduct of the Plaintiff’s file.  By the time the matter was heard by the Court, Ms. Katerberg’s lawyer had already done extensive investigation and preparation for the court hearings.

Ms. Katerberg claimed special costs of $114,000.  The Court considered the factors relating to special costs, such as case complexity, lawyer’s knowledge and skill, the amount involved and the time reasonably spent conducting the proceeding. After considering all of the factors, the Court awarded Ms. Katerberg special costs in the amount of $73,500.

If you are injured and uncertain who the correct party is to sue, contact Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota for legal advice.  There can be financial consequences to attempting to sue the wrong person.