21 Sep Lumbar Facet Syndrome

In Villing v. Husseni,  2015 BCSC 1604, the Plaintiff was a young woman attending paralegal school with the goal of becoming a paralegal and possibly a lawyer. She was involved in a motor vehicle collision where liability was admitted by ICBC. She suffered primarily from chronic back pain (lumbar facet syndrome) that would to some extent remain symptomatic throughout her life. Her medical expert’s opinion was that she would require ongoing medical procedures in order to manage her low back pain. ICBC’s medical expert’s opinion was that the Plaintiff’s low back pain would completely resolve with one medical procedure and that the Plaintiff would thereafter have no further symptoms.

Mr. Justice Saunders considered the evidence of both experts and the Plaintiff. He found that Ms. Villing would probably deal with “a lifetime of some degree of chronic back pain and a need to manage her lifestyle and constantly be watchful; but also that she has the possibility of long-term and perhaps permanent abatement of her facet joint pain through rhizotomies and rehabilitation”. Weighing all of the evidence before him, Mr. Justice Saunders assessed the Plaintiff’s pain and suffering award at $85,000.

With respect to loss of earning capacity, the Court found that there was a real and substantial possibility that Ms. Villing would suffer a loss in her future earnings despite the evidence of ICBC’s medical expert, though the Court found it would be a more modest loss than the Plaintiff claimed. The Court awarded $100,000 for loss of future earning capacity taking into account both positive (possibility of complete recovery) and negative (remaining symptomatic, impact to her sought after career as a paralegal as opposed to as a legal secretary, impact of longer maternity leaves due to symptoms etc.) contingencies.

As the Plaintiff beat the formal offer she made to ICBC in this matter before trial, the Court awarded her costs to the time of her formal offer and double costs thereafter.