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Case Law Archives

Chiocchio v. City of Hamilton et al.

On December 7, 2016, the Honourable Mr. Justice Skarica released his Reasons for Judgment after a trial before him in Hamilton. This action arose from a tragic motor vehicle accident which resulted in the Plaintiff (our client) being rendered a quadriplegic. The losses and damages suffered by the Plaintiff were considerable. The trial proceeded before Justice Skarica on the issue of liability only. While one of the Defendants admitted some fault for the accident, the main issue was whether the City of Hamilton was liable also. The evidence during the trial established that the intersection in question had a history of accidents and that the City failed to paint the stop line at the intersection despite the recommendation to do so. The visibility at the intersection also became poor the further back that a motorist stopped. In the end, Justice Skarica found the City of Hamilton liable and apportioned fault at 50% against the City and 50% against the Defendant driver. In finding liability against the City, Justice Skarica concluded as follows: "In my opinion, the evidence establishes that the condition of the intersection with the faded stop line posed an unreasonable risk of harm to a reasonable driver. Accordingly, I find on a balance of probabilities that the City of Hamilton failed to keep the intersection at 5th Concession West and Brock Road in a reasonable state of repair." Click here to read the full Judgment on CanLII. (Chiocchio v Ellis, 2016 ONSC 7570 (CanLII)) Peter Cho and Michael Smitiuch were trial counsel for the Plaintiffs.

Fearless Advocacy - The Dabor Trial

The lawyers, paralegals and staff at Smitiuch Injury Law continue to fearlessly advocate for their clients at both trials and arbitrations. It is the philosophy of the firm to take cases to trial where the other side fails to make a fair and reasonable settlement offer. We have conducted numerous trials and arbitrations in recent years and do not shy away from challenging liability or damages cases. The case of Dabor et al. v. Southbram Holdings Limited et al. (CV-11-417735) is one such example.   On June 3, 2016, a Toronto jury returned a verdict in favour of our clients after three weeks of trial. This action arose from the Plaintiff's fall from a metal stud located above a drop-down ceiling to the floor ten feet below. The Plaintiff suffered a comminuted calcaneous (broken heal) and continues to suffer with significant pain.   This was a unique case in that the Plaintiff was an independent contractor performing regular work at a warehouse owned and occupied by the Defendant corporations. Neither of the parties had workers' compensation coverage. It was alleged by the Defendants that the Plaintiff was the author of his own misfortune and as an experienced contractor he should have performed the work more carefully. In addition, they argued that the Plaintiff did not raise any safety concerns with the work he was being asked to perform and that he had in fact completed the same task safely one week before his fall.   Even before this case made it to trial, the Defendants had brought a summary judgment motion to try and put a stop to the lawsuit. Peter Cho of Smitiuch Injury Law successfully fought off this motion and the case continued on.   During the trial, we called numerous witnesses, including an orthopaedic surgeon, family physician, specialist pain doctor and a forensic accountant. In the end, the jury found the Defendants 38% responsible for failing to give clear instructions to the Plaintiff, failing to have a safe pathway above the ceiling and failing to provide the necessary equipment for the job. The jury assessed damages at $515,000.00 plus interest and the Plaintiffs beat the Defendants' formal offer to settle.   This verdict was significant because it serves as a warning to owners and occupiers of properties that they must ensure they have the right person to do the job and that their premises must be safe for the work intended to be performed.   Michael Smitiuch and Peter Cho were trial counsel for the Plaintiffs.

New Decision Clarifies Insurer's Examination Requirements

In the decision, Larry Ward and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company [FSCO A14-010161], Arbitrator Chuck Matheson decided on a preliminary issue as to whether an insured, Mr. Larry Ward, was precluded from proceeding to arbitration on a number of issues due to his non-attendance for insurer's examinations, which are required under Section 44 of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). One of the factors considered by Arbitrator Matheson was whether or not State Farm provided medical or other reasons for the insurer's examinations.  The arbitrator interpreted the requirement to be that, "...the medical reasons test must tell the Applicant, in an unsophisticated way, why the tests [insurer's examinations] are reasonable and necessary."  The words "reasonable and necessary" are new to the consideration of what is required for a medical reason required by an insurer. The decision also confirms that, just because an insurer has not approved particular treatment or an assessment (for instance, if it is funded by OHIP), does not mean that they are not required to pay for transportation to and from them.  It also confirms that an OCF-18 Treatment and Assessment Plan is not required for goods or services under $250.00, as well as for medications prescribed by a regulated health professional. Arbitrator Matheson also concluded that case management services, while subject to submission on a treatment plan, are not subject to an insurer's examination.  He notes that,

Dockets Not Necessarily Required for Costs

A recent judicial decision determined that a law firm's dockets are not normally required to be produced in order for a court to fix costs under the Rules of Civil Procedure. In Bhatt v William Beasley Enterprises Limited [2015 ONSC 4941 (CanLII)], Justice Faieta stated that the mere size of the amount of costs being claimed is not a sufficient reason to require a party to undertake the expense of preparing and vetting their dockets. Peter Cho and Luke Hamer, both of Smitiuch Injury Law, represented the Bhatt family in this matter. The decision can be read in its entirety by clicking on the link below. http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2015/2015onsc4941/2015onsc4941.html

Smitiuch Injury Law Obtains Justice for Clients at Trial

We are very proud of Peter Cho and Luke Hamer, both of Smitiuch Injury Law, in the recent trial win on behalf of Shivam Bhatt. Shivam was 11 years old at the time and was seriously injured on a ride at Toronto's Centre Island. You can read the decision in its entirety by clicking on the link below. Bhatt et al. v. William Beasley Enterprises Limited Released June 12, 2015

FSCO Decision Reinforces Viability of Retrospective Attendant Care Needs Assessments (Form 1's)

A new arbitration decision from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) affirms previous decisions that a retrospective attendant care needs assessment (commonly referred to as a "Form 1") are viable. In the decision Stephanie Kelly and Guarantee Company of North America [FSCO A12-006663], Arbitrator John Wilson affirmed that Ms. Kelly is entitled to payment for supplementary attendant care services, to be reimbursed for the cost for the Form 1 assessment, interest, and her expenses in the matter. Ms. Kelly suffered catastrophic injuries and required one-to-one attendant care while in hospital.  Her family was, understandably, not in a position to know that a Form 1 was required to be completed to determine the amount of attendant care needs she required by use of a Form 1.  Once they were aware that one needed to be completed they retained an occupational therapist, who then completed a retrospective assessment. In considering The Guarantee's position that no attendant care benefit is payable prior to a Form 1 being submitted to an insurer, Arbitrator Wilson relied on a previous arbitration decision, T.N. and The Personal, wherein Arbitrator Bayefsky stated the following:

Aviva Canada Penalized for not Producing Someone With Authority

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) has released a Pre-Arbitration Hearing Decision regarding Aviva Canada's failure to have anyone from the insurer with authority available to resolve an accident benefits claim. In the decision, Dabrowska and Aviva [FSCO A13-007793] a pre-arbitration discussion was held on February 27, 2014, and counsel for both parties reached an agreement on a "modest resolution" of the insured's accident benefits claim.  While Aviva had legal counsel and a representative present at the discussion, neither of them had authority to approve the settlement and no one with authority was available by either telephone or email. Arbitrator John Wilson found Aviva in violation of Section 279(5) of the Insurance Act, which reads as follows:

Scarlett and Belair Appeal Allowed - Remitted to Another Hearing

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario has allowed the appeal of a previous arbitration decision with respect to the Minor Injuries Guidelines (MIG). In the appeal decision Scarlett and Belair Insurance [FSCO P13-00014] Director's Delegate David Evans allowed the appeal of the earlier decision by Arbitrator Wilson.  Our original blog post on this decision can be referenced by clicking here. Director's Delegate Evans has ordered that all issues be subject to a full hearing before another arbitrator. This appeal decision provides a few glimpses of what is likely to come from a new arbitration hearing with respect to the Minor Injury Guidelines:

Law Times Article Quotes Michael Smitiuch on Economic Loss issue for Attendant Care

The Law Times has published an article examining the current legal issue as to what constitutes an "economic loss" for family members and friends of individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents to be compensated for providing attendant care. In September 2010 the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) was changed so that non-professional attendant care providers could only be compensated if they incurred an "economic loss" by providing the attendant care.  The SABS does not define what exactly is an "economic loss" and this has been the subject of vigorous debate between insurers and insureds. The case of Henry v. Gore Insurance it was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal that an insurer cannot just compensate an attendant for the actual amount of the economic loss; rather, the insurer is bound to compensate the attendant for all incurred services in accordance with the amounts calculated by the Attendant Care Needs Assessment (Form 1). In the October 14, 2013, Law Times article, the focus is now on the decision, Simser and Aviva Canada Inc., which is currently under appeal.  In this case the insured tried to broaden the definition of "economic loss" to include loss of opportunity, labour or leisure, which the arbitrator did not agree with.  Rather, the arbitrator took the position that there must be some type of monetary or financial loss.

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