21 Sep ICBC Guilty of Abuse of Process

If a driver admits he was at fault in an accident in which his passengers are injured, doesn’t it make sense that that admission would apply to all the passengers?  Most of you are probably nodding your head “yes”.  Unfortunately, each of the passenger’s cases may be handled by a different ICBC adjuster… and each ICBC adjuster will make their own decision as to whether to admit liability.  How do our courts handle that?

In the recent case of Glover v. Leakey, 2016 BCSC 1624, the Plaintiff’s husband drove their vehicle into the back of a snowplow.  The Plaintiff was a back seat passenger in the vehicle and suffered significant injuries.  Ms. Yeomans, a front seat passenger, was also badly injured.

ICBC admitted that the husband was liable for the accident when Ms. Yeoman sued for her personal injuries, and her case settled. The Plaintiff’s lawyer was not aware of this until the Plaintiff’s trial, in which ICBC denied liability, was underway.

The Plaintiff applied for a mistrial on the issue of liability.  The Plaintiff alleged that ICBC engaged in an abuse of process when it denied liability in her action but admitted liability in the separate action commenced by Ms. Yeomans.  The Judge agreed with the Plaintiff.

The Judge noted that ICBC, the Province’s public mandatory motor vehicle insurer, had conduct of both the Glover and the Yeomans actions.  It was clear that the adjuster in the Yeomans action determined that liability would be admitted whereas the adjuster in the Glover action determined that liability would be denied.

At paragraphs 67 and 68 the Judge stated:

“… I expressly find that ICBC knew of the inconsistent pleadings and that the insured, Kenneth Leakey knew or ought to have known of the inconsistent positions…In my view, the defendant’s inconsistent positions on liability offend all these principals which are fundamental to our system of law.”

The judge declared a mistrial and granted judgement to the Plaintiff on the issue of liability.

Personal injury cases can be complex and ICBC will not make it easy for you. At Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota, we have the experience and knowledge to handle any and all issues that may arise in your case.