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Defendant Beats Offer by Over $100K – Appeal Dismissed

In Hadzic et al v. Croxford, 2019 ONSC 6839, the Divisional Court considered an appeal by the plaintiff following a jury trial arising from a motor vehicle accident.

Prior to trial, the defendant offered to settle for $150,000, net of the deductible, plus costs.

The jury awarded $15,000 for general damages, $35,000 for future medications, and $5,000 for future psychotherapy. No damages were awarded for income loss or other future healthcare costs.

After applying the deductible, the plaintiff received a judgment of no more than $40,000. It is unclear from the decision as to whether there were any deductions for collateral benefits.

The plaintiff argued that the jury’s assessment of damages was conflicting and irreconcilable. The plaintiff said that the general damages award of $15,000 suggested the jury did not accept that the plaintiff had suffered chronic pain syndrome, but that the award for future medications and psychotherapy suggested the jury accepted that the plaintiff had ongoing injuries.

The Divisional Court held that there was no obvious inconsistency in the jury’s findings. The jury’s assessment of damages could be reasonably interpreted to mean that the jury accepted that the plaintiff sustained a modest injury which had not prevented him from continuing to work at his pre-accident capacity, and that the jury also accepted that the plaintiff requires ongoing medication and therapy to continue to work until he can retire.

Further, the Divisional Court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the damages were unreasonable and unjust, indicating that the verdict suggests the jury did not find the plaintiff to be a credible witness. The Court noted that, as in most personal injury actions, the credibility of the plaintiff determined the award given. There may have been a variety of reasons why the jury could have doubted the credibility of the plaintiff.

Moreover, it was not plainly unreasonable for the jury to reject the evidence of the plaintiff’s orthopaedic expert. The expert’s conclusions were largely dependent on the information provided by the plaintiff.

The fact that the defendant made an offer to settle which far exceeded the jury’s verdict was irrelevant. The Divisional Court indicated that this offer could have been made solely to manage risk and avoid the legal fees of trial.

As a result, the plaintiff’s appeal was dismissed.

This decision shows that a jury’s verdict will only be overturned in exceptional circumstances. The test is whether the verdict is so plainly unreasonable and unjust that no jury, review the evidence as a whole and acting judiciously, could have reached it.