Mussio Goodman Breaks New Legal Ground With Latest Court Decision

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Mussio Goodman is pleased to announce our success with the judgment of Terezakis v. Ekins, 2018 BCSC 249. This application involved the plaintiff applying for leave under s.151 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, SBC 2009 c. 13. to secure standing to bring an action on behalf of the Estate of Aikaterini Terezakis, the deceased.

This decision is the first successful case in British Columbia where a beneficiary or intestate successor has been granted leave, based on necessity alone, to bring an action on behalf of an estate to sue for a resulting trust over a property that was transfered by the deceased before death.

Mussio Goodman successfully argued in Terezakis that the plaintiff had fulfilled the requisite criterion to obtain standing. The criterion being:

  1. the beneficiary made reasonable efforts to cause the personal representative to commence or defend the proceeding;
  2. the beneficiary gave notice of the application to the personal representatives and any other beneficiaries;
  3. the beneficiary is acting in good faith; and
  4. it is necessary or expedient for the protection of the estate or the interest of the beneficiary or intestate successor for the proceeding to be brought or defended.

The Honorable Madam Justice Morellato opined at paragraph 31 in Terezakis that the court can grant leave under s. 151 on the criterion of necessity alone:

“[31]        Ms. Ekins is in a difficult position.  She is the executor of the Estate, a beneficiary under the Will and also the owner in fee simple of the Richmond Property which Mr. T. Terezakis claims she holds in trust for the Estate, an allegation which Ms. Ekins vigorously disputes.  Ms. Ekins deposed in her affidavit sworn January 31, 2017 that, “in her capacity as Executor” of the Estate, she intend to take a neutral position” in the Action.  By taking a “neutral position”, Ms. Ekins is clearly unwilling to prosecute the claims articulated by Mr. T. Terezakis, on behalf of the Estate,  since a key issue in this suit would challenge her ownership interest in the Richmond Property.  Further, because of her asserted interest in the Richmond Property, she is in a conflict of interest, making her effectively “unable to proceed” on behalf of the estate.  In this light, given that I have found the other pre-conditions of s. 151 have been satisfied, I conclude that I may exercise my discretion to grant leave under s. 151 on the criterion of “necessity” alone.”

This precedent setting judgment shows that obtaining legal counsel with experience, knowledge, and expertise in estate litigation can get you results previously unheard of. At Mussio Goodman, we provide our Wills and Estates clients with the requisite experience, knowledge, and expertise.

News 1130 Interviews Eric Goodman on Why Injury Caps Punish Victims Instead of Bad Drivers

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From the article:

One of the key things the province is tasking ICBC to do is to, clearly and legally, redefine what a minor injury is. We know it will include things like: sprains, strains, mild whiplash, cuts, bruises, stress and anxiety from a crash but not broken bones, brain injuries or concussions.

Vancouver lawyer Eric Goodman wonders if it’s fair that someone with a minor injury doesn’t get enough money to handle a lifetime of pain. “What they’re trying to do is just use a blanket term: ‘minor injury’, and apply it to everybody no matter what the personal circumstances and that’s just not the way it works.”

He also feels having the insurance company define the word moving forward is a little biased.

“Claims that they initially determined to be minor and for which they put aside a certain amount of money to pay-off eventually turned out to be very complex. So, that in it of itself is proof that you can’t just, right after an accident say, ‘this is a minor claim, here’s a few thousand dollars, be on your way.’ These types of injuries can be insidious and it takes time to determine how it effects that individual person.”

Victoria is also looking to cap the payout for minor injuries claims at $5,500 and Goodman thinks this may backfire. “What it has shown us that in Alberta and Ontario, putting caps on injury claims do not work. In Ontario, the premiums are higher than in BC and the courts are bogged down in fighting.”

Fighting because, he adds, minor claims will be handed off to a group of independent adjudicators and Goodman expects lengthy delays as people attempt to fight for their rights.

Goodman suggests the government look elsewhere to fix the problems at ICBC.

“The fact is ICBC was wildly profitable up until just a few short years ago before the Liberals took the profits out of their coffers and before ICBC started to get very litigious in the way they handled claims. If they had just compensated claimants fairly early, we wouldn’t be in this mess. This won’t alleviate the burdens on the legal system, in fact, it may just exacerbate the problem.”

Court Rejects ICBC’s Application to Assess Our Client By ICBC Doctor

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Mussio Goodman is pleased to announce our recent success in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, in which we defended our client’s interests by preventing a medical assessment (IME) by an orthopedic surgeon chosen by ICBC.

IMEs are often obtained by both the claimant and ICBC during the litigation process, the purpose of which is to have independent doctors provide the parties, and ultimately the Court, with an impartial expert opinion on the claimant’s injuries. The law is clear with regards to IMEs; the Plaintiff must attend these appointments so long as they are reasonable and fair.

In this recent case, our client was in a motor vehicle accident where she suffered a number of injuries including a concussion, traumatic brain injury, and a number of soft tissue injuries. At this point of the claim, our client had already consented to an IME with a neurologist selected by ICBC.

Interestingly, ICBC instructed the neurologist to provide a fulsome report of our client’s injuries, not restricting him to opinions of a neurological nature. The ICBC doctor commented extensively on our client’s soft tissue injuries, providing views that went well beyond his expertise as a neurologist. We stood firm in our position that a subsequent IME was inappropriate as ICBC had already received a fulsome report of our client’s injuries. As a result, ICBC applied for a court order to compel our client to attend.

We argued that the second IME was unnecessary to put the parties on an equal playing field. We further argued that ICBC was simply looking to bolster the weaknesses of the previous report from the neurologist. They were in essence ‘doctor shopping’ for a more favourable opinion.

Madam Justice MacNaughton of the Supreme Court of British Columbia agreed with our submissions and dismissed ICBC’s application with costs.

NDP’s Proposed “Injury Caps” and ICBC Doctor Martin Grypma

Posted on by Mussio Goodman

Mussio Goodman has written extensively about one of ICBC’s favorite “independent medical examiners” Dr. Grypma here and here. Dr. Grypma’s reports have been rejected by the courts more than a dozen times. Judges have described him as being “deliberately or grossly careless”, “argumentative” and “incorrect”, and his opinions have been disregarded as “ill-considered and superficial.”

Now the Globe and Mail has just published a damning exposé on ICBC’s use of Dr. Grypma, which mirrors the very public advisories we previously issued.

Indeed, in spite of their assurances about treating injured claimants fairly, ICBC has hired and continues to hire doctors who have a well-established reputation for bias and other questionable conduct.

Now the NDP wants to institute a “cap” on “minor injuries”, which will limit an injured victim’s access to legal representation, rehabilitation, and fair compensation. The question is, who determines whether the injury is minor? The public has every right to be concerned over the prospect of ICBC paying very good money to their stable of reliable doctors to ensure they get the “minor” diagnosis they want.

ICBC was well aware of Dr. Grypma’s dubious reputation for years, and yet they kept hiring him. One can reasonably assume it was to achieve their goal of cutting benefits and reducing compensation. And now we want to give them even more power over injured victims’ access to rehab and fair compensation?

There are other ways to solve ICBC’s financial problems. Punish the bad drivers, not the victims. Call your MLA and say NO to caps.

Press Release: Mussio Goodman Expands to Vancouver Island

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Mussio Goodman Injury and Estate Lawyers, with offices in Downtown Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna and Vernon, is now proud to announce its expansion to Vancouver Island.

With a full service office located in Nanaimo at #203 – 335 Wesley St., Mussio Goodman can now offer its premier legal services and record of success to injured clients across Vancouver Island.

Managing Partner Wes Mussio, who has been practicing exclusively in personal injury for over 25 years, and who recently purchased the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL, stated “since my other business and personal interests have expanded to the island, it only seemed fitting that we open a law office in Nanaimo as well.”

Wes’ partner, Eric Goodman notes that “while our existing infrastructure of 12 lawyers and students, as well as 22 staff across four offices, already allowed us to represent clients all over the province, having a location in Nanaimo gives us a stronger ability to connect with the local community and our clients.”

Wes adds: “I especially look forward to spending more time on the island and serving its residents who have suffered injuries through no fault of their own.”

For more information or a free consultation, please call 250 824 5027 or toll free at 1 855 MUSSIO1, or visit us at mussiogoodman.com.

Mussio Goodman Counsel Fred Sierecki Obtains $584,560 For Client At Trial

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Mussio Goodman is pleased to announce Associate Counsel Fred Sierecki’s success after a three week trial in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

In Raptis v. Chalabiani, 2017 BCSC 1548, the Court awarded the Plaintiff $584,560 for injuries sustained in a December 2009 motor vehicle accident, which substantially exceeded ICBC’s final offer of $364,243 before trial.

The Plaintiff sustained a number of injuries in the accident, the most serious of which was to her left hip, which required surgery.  This injury made it difficult to perform her job as an elementary school teacher, and to engage in many activities that he previously enjoyed, such as running.

ICBC argued that the Plaintiff’s damages should be minimal, stemming from the fact that there was minimal damage to her car.  The Court ultimately disagreed with this argument after listening to several medical experts retained by the Plaintiff testify that minimal vehicle damage does not equate with minimal physical injury.

ICBC also argued that the Plaintiff should not be awarded any past wage loss because she simply chose to work half-time due to her two young children, one of whom was diagnosed with Autism shortly after the accident.  ICBC also argued that the Plaintiff shouldn’t have undergone the hip surgery which her surgeon felt could help reduce some of her pain.  In awarding $125,000 for past wage loss, the Court held that:

[175] In my view, it was reasonable for the plaintiff to seek the support of her physicians to work on a part-time basis following her second pregnancy in circumstances where she had struggled working full time and she was scheduled to have surgery on her hip — which ultimately occurred in January of 2015. I note that Dr. Sam expressly supported the plaintiff working on a 50% basis.

ICBC argued that the Plaintiff should not be awarded any loss of future income because she was attending a CrossFit gym which they argued was evidence of a lack of physical impairment.  The Court agreed with Mr. Sierecki’s submissions that there was a real and substantial possibility of future income loss and awarded $295,000 on the basis that she would likely only be able to work 4 days per week instead of full-time in the years ahead.  The Judge stated as follows:

[182]     In this case, I find that the plaintiff has established that her earning capacity has been impaired and that there is a real and substantial possibility that the diminishment in earning capacity will result in a loss of income. I do not agree that the plaintiff’s limitations can fairly be described as causing her mere “discomfort”. I conclude that the evidence supports her continuing to have functional limitations affecting the performance of her teaching duties on a daily basis, such as her ability to perform tasks associated with sustained or repetitive postures. As noted above, the evidence of Dr. Masri and Dr. Gilbart was that her chronic pain in her hip and lower back will likely continue and the evidence of Dr. Lamba was that her pain has an emotional component which affects how she deals with stressors. While she has been able to make a number of work modifications, they do not wholly alleviate her limitations.

While 98% of injury claims settle, this case demonstrates the importance of hiring experienced trial lawyers who won’t hesitate to advance your claim to trial to get the compensation you deserve.