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In Dhillon v Jaffer the BC Court of Appeal dealt with the issues of double recovery for negligence and Vancouver Nervous Shock and Mental Distress. Here is a summary of the case from the official court website as well as the key paragraphs of this key judgment that sets the rules for Vancouver Nervous Shock and Mental Distress lawyers:
Summary: While the plaintiff was living in India in 1993, his home was fraudulently sold by his wife and son, the proceeds of which sale were approximately $187,000. The defendant solicitor was found to be negligent in releasing proceeds from the sale to the spouse, who was at that time the solicitor’s client and not known to have defrauded the plaintiff. Upon his return to Canada and discovery of the fraud in 2000, the plaintiff successfully sued his wife for the fraud and was awarded title to a house into which approximately $101,000 of the fraudulently obtained funds had been traced. The plaintiff then sued the solicitor, claiming damages for the negligently released funds ($187,000), as well as mental distress suffered during the period between the loss of the house and his ultimate recovery of the derivative house in 2008. The trial judge found the solicitor liable for the full amount released, as well as $40,000 in general damages for mental distress. The solicitor appealed, and the plaintiff cross appealed.
Held: The appeal is allowed, and the cross appeal dismissed. Fundamental rules of tort law dictate the outcome in this case: a plaintiff cannot recover more than was caused by the defendant’s wrong, and a tortfeasor is only responsible for losses occasioned by foreseeable harm. In the initial fraud proceeding, the plaintiff was awarded title to the derivative house into which $101,000 had been traced. To permit the plaintiff to recover the full $187,000 in this proceeding would violate the rule against double recovery. Moreover, as at the time of sale the spouse was presumptively entitled to 50% of the matrimonial home under the Family Relations Act, caused by the foreseeable losses at the time of the tort were only $93,500. The plaintiff has therefore had his losses fully satisfied by the award of the derivative house. Damages for mental distress are not available in this type of case in the absence of evidence of a foreseeable psychiatric injury, according to the standard set out in Mustapha v. Culligan of Canada Ltd. 2008 SCC 27. No such injury was established in this case. Reasons for Judgment of the Honourable Madam Justice Newbury:
The key point to note on Vancouver Nervous Shock and Mental Distress claims is :
Quite simply, minor and transient upsets do not constitute personal injury, and hence do not amount to damage. To put it another way, unusual or extreme reactions to events caused by negligence are imaginable but not reasonably foreseeable. To say this is not to marginalize or penalize those particularly vulnerable to mental injury. It is merely to confirm that the law of tort imposes an obligation to compensate for any harm done on the basis of reasonable foresight, not as insurance. The law of negligence seeks to impose a result that is fair to both plaintiffs and defendants, and that is socially useful. In this quest, it draws the line for compensability of damage, not at perfection, but at reasonable foreseeability.
Our Vancouver and Surrey Nervous Shock and Mental Distress Lawyers are anxious to ensure you get justice and the highest possible personal injury settlement or court award. Call us toll free across BC at 1-877-602-9900.