We have previously written about personal injury claims resulting from dog bite attacks, providing victims with information regarding strict liability for dog owners and steps to take following a dog bite. In a recent case, Buttar v. Cheema, the court was faced with a different question in relation to a dog bite attack. What relief is available to victims when the defendants fail to participate or follow crucial steps in the litigation process? This case provides important information not only for victims of dog bites, but all personal injury victims when dealing with defendants who fail to meet their obligations in litigation.
Plaintiff Brings Application for “Costs Thrown Away” After Defendants Fail to Participate in Litigation
A plaintiff brought a personal injury action for injuries she allegedly sustained from a dog while visiting her uncle and aunt’s house. The plaintiff’s mother, father, and siblings also advanced claims under the Family Law Act, (for providing the plaintiff with nursing and housekeeping services, among other things). The defendants took the position that the dog was owned by a third party whose relationship to the defendants was unclear.
In this application, the plaintiff sought relief for the defendants’ failure to attend scheduled examinations for discovery and mandatory mediations and failure to respond to undertakings (all of which are required steps in the personal injury litigation process).
The plaintiff also sought “costs thrown away” to cover the amount of money the plaintiff had spent attempting to force the defendants to meet their obligations.
What Are “Costs Thrown Away”?
Courts will order “costs thrown away” to compensate a party for wasted costs associated with preparing for a trial, a hearing, or other steps in the litigation process. These costs may be awarded, for example, where another party fails to appear for an examination for discovery without a proper excuse or in the case of a mistrial.
Defendants Required to Pay for Plaintiff’s Wasted Efforts
The plaintiff sought $14,447.13 in costs, including HST and disbursements. The defendants agreed that a costs order was appropriate, but claimed that $4,000 was more reasonable.
The court noted that the defendants’ failure to attend crucial aspects of the litigation process, such as the examinations for discovery and mediations, had gone unexplained. However, the court was only willing to award “costs thrown away” for the defendants’ failure to attend the examinations for discovery. The court noted that the mediation preparation completed by the plaintiff was not “fully thrown away” in the sense that the preparation for the aborted mediations could still be put towards a future mediation. However, the court awarded some costs associated with the missed mediation because “discovery evidence will inevitably lead to changes in the mediation materials…which would have been unnecessary had the defendants produced themselves for discovery at either of the two examination dates scheduled prior to the first mediation.”
The court ultimately ordered the defendants to pay the plaintiff $7,000 in “costs thrown away”, including HST and disbursements, payable within 14 days.
What Does This Mean for Personal Injury Claimants in Ontario?
This case is a reminder of the importance of meeting one’s obligations in a personal injury action, regardless of whether you are a plaintiff or defendant. All parties must take their responsibilities seriously, even if they believe the claim has been brought against the wrong party. This decision also underscores the importance of hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer who will be able to provide guidance and advice to ensure a party takes the appropriate steps to back their position while also remaining in compliance with their legal obligations.
Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Eastern Ontario and North Bay
The personal injury litigation process is daunting on its own, but when a plaintiff is dealing with a defendant who refuses to participate or engage, the process can feel insurmountable. For assistance with your personal injury claim, be sure to speak with an experienced lawyer who can help you navigate the litigation process and deal with any issues that arise along the way.
At Tierney Stauffer LLP, our experienced personal injury lawyers have over 35 years of experience advocating for those who have been injured in accidents, or through the negligence or abuse of others. If you have suffered an injury, our lawyers will ensure you get the full compensation you are owed.
We recognize that no two injury claims are the same, which is why we give each claim the personalized attention needed to protect your rights and bring about the best possible outcome. Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with a member of our team.