Jury dismisses plaintiff’s claim after plaintiff turns down $75,000 offer

In an interesting costs decision released today, the court in Ross v. Andrews, 2017 BCSC 338, ordered the plaintiff to pay the defence double costs after a jury determined the plaintiff had "not been injured in the motor vehicle accident" and dismissed his claim.  In Ross, the defence made a formal offer to settle for $75,000 about three weeks before trial.  The plaintiff rejected this offer and proceeded to trial.  In ordering the plaintiff to pay the defence double costs for the entire trial, Mr. Justice Ball said as follows:

[4]             On September 18, 2014, the defendants made a formal offer to settle the action for the sum of $41,000 plus costs. This offer to settle was open for acceptance at any time before 4 pm, Pacific Standard Time on the last business day before the commencement of the first day of trial in this proceeding after which the offer would expire.

[5]             Later on May 19, 2016, the defendants delivered to the plaintiff a second offer to settle. The settlement amount in this case was $75,000 together with the plaintiff’s costs assessed in accordance with Rule 14 – 1 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules.

[6]             Neither of these offers to settle was accepted by the plaintiff. As noted above the plaintiff went to trial before a jury which lasted 15 days, and was not successful.

[21]         Based on a review of the evidence at trial, described in part above, and the cases cited, as well as a review of the submissions of counsel, I find that the offer to settle in the amount of $75,000 ought reasonably to have been accepted by the plaintiff having given consideration to the foreseeable credibility problems and the negative verdict of the jury. The offers to settle both included positive returns whereas at trial the plaintiff’s action was dismissed. The relative financial circumstances of the parties do not preclude an order for double costs in this situation. As a result, applying Rule 9-1 of the Supreme Court Rules, the defendants are entitled to the costs of this action generally and double costs of this action commencing on May 26, 2016. This date is seven days after the second offer to settle was delivered to the plaintiff; a reasonable period of time for the plaintiff to consider the offer. Double costs are awarded from May 26, 2016 until the end of the trial and will include the costs of the application to fix costs. The defendants are also entitled to disbursements but not doubled.

The full decision can be found here:  http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/17/03/2017BCSC0338.htm