Mussio Goodman Class Action Lawsuit Against FortisBC

Posted on by Mussio Goodman

Commercial Drive businesses want fair compensation for financial disruptions caused by FortisBC

Wes Mussio of Mussio Goodman Law has filed a lawsuit against Newfoundland utility company Fortis inc. The ongoing lawsuit was reported by British Colombian news outlets, Global News and CityNews 1130. Fifteen business located on or near Commercial Drive have signed up for the class action lawsuit.

FortisBC was replacing a 20 kilometre section of pipeline and shut down traffic in the area for construction . The construction was supposed to last a total of four months from May until August of 2018. FortisBC also promised free advertising to minimize the financial damage to the businesses.

However, the construction project was extended without a reasonable excuse and the businesses were left unaware until it was too late. FortisBC also did not adequately advertise the businesses as promised.

As a result, businesses in the local area lost tens of thousands of dollars from the recklessness of FortisBC, which left them at risk of closure. Mussio Goodman is fighting to receive fair compensation for their clients.

Read more on Global News: Commercial Drive businesses suing FortisBC for lost revenue during pipeline replacement

Read more on CityNews 1130: More Commercial Drive businesses likely to join FortisBC lawsuit

Wes Mussio is Featured in Canadian Lawyer Magazine

Posted on by Mussio Goodman

WES MUSSIO OF MUSSIO GOODMAN LAWYERS FEATURED IN NATIONAL MAGAZINE PUBLICATION, CANADIAN LAWYER MAGAZINE

The NDP government, in support of ICBC, has been introducing one-sided legislation since early 2018 which substantially compromises victim rights for fair compensation when a citizen is injured in a motor vehicle accident in British Columbia that is not his/her fault. In turn, ICBC has received substantial powers to minimize any pay out to injured victims under the one-sided legislative initiatives of the NDP government.

The new legislation, for accidents that occurred on or after April 1, 2019, involves severely restricting compensation for injuries by limiting pain and suffering to $5500, indexed for inflation. The limit on pain and suffering is for injuries that are deemed “minor” but the NDP introduced the definition of minor that includes catastrophic, permanent and life-changing injuries as well. Indeed, the legislation introduced by the NDP to help ICBC categorizes obviously serious injuries like brain injury and chronic pain as being “minor”. This is clearly for the purpose of the NDP government selling to the public that only “minor” injuries are affected when in actual fact, the truth is serious injuries are capped at $5,500.

The level of compensation available to victims will impede the ability of victims to retain a lawyer to help him/her deal with ICBC and the Civil Resolution Tribunal. Judging from public statements by David Eby, the Attorney General, one of the purposes of the NDP’s legislative changes is to reduce lawyer involvement in ICBC files which, in turn, means reducing access to justice for victims of car crashes.

The clear consequences of these changes are a lot less legal work which will almost certainly create extensive layoffs across the industry. Although the full effects of the legislative change are unknown, you can expect between 4,000 to 10,000 job losses ranging from jobs of junior lawyers, paralegals, legal assistants, receptionists, court reporters, medical office assistants, etc. Of the job losses, most will be women and lower income earners. This is in stark contrast to the NDP holding themselves out as an advocate for workers and the less fortunate.

This article discusses the impact of ICBC’s CAP no-fault system on the legal community. Since the article was written, the NDP is going forward with full no-fault which will be even more decimating to jobs in the legal community. Victims of car crashes will not receive much in the way of compensation and ICBC will be able to minimize the amount paid out under any claim. The at-fault driver that caused the accident will be the big winner getting similar benefits as the person(s) who got injured as a result of the negligence, poor judgement and bad behaviour of the at-fault driver.

You can read the article featuring Wes Mussio here: Insurance Cap Article

 

ICBC’s New “Care Model” Results in Less Care for Injuired People

Posted on by Mussio Goodman

Before April 1, ICBC let injured people have options, now they do not

 

On April 1, 2019 the new NDP legislative regime designed to save ICBC money kicked in. The scheme was purported by the Attorney General David Eby to “provide enhanced care for people injured in crashes” by increasing the amount ICBC pays for treatment like physiotherapy or active rehabilitation. The reality on the ground now being realized shows that Mr. Eby is at best a naive idealist and at worst deceptive.

The legislation did indeed increase the amount ICBC will pay for treatment up front, but also capped the total amount ICBC has to pay for each treatment. Therein lies the fine print.

 

ICBC’s New Policy

Before April 1, 2019, an injured person had the option of going to any clinic they wanted, and pay for the treatment they needed, resting assured they could recover that sum from ICBC when they settled their claim. The legislation now forces claimants to only go to clinics that adhere to ICBC’s policies, because if they go elsewhere and pay one penny more than ICBC’s prescribed rates, they are barred from getting that money back from ICBC.

More importantly, because the amounts ICBC pays per treatment session are not market rates, physiotherapists and other treatment professionals are now doing what is obvious to make the new rates work; they are spending less time actually treating injured people.

As indicated to us by one physiotherapy clinic “…our new session fee schedule will not charge a user fee, but have a reduced time 1:1 physio (20 mins) and 1:1 kin (45 mins) vs the [old] 30 and 60 mins respectively.”

ICBC will surely just say, “Well, to make up for the shorter treatment sessions, injured people can just go to the clinics more often.” Never mind the life disruption of having to book more sessions to get the same result. Or is it the same result? Surely there was a rehabilitative reason why a kinesiologist wanted to see a patient for a full 60 minutes at a time rather than 45 minutes once they started getting paid less by ICBC.

If Mr. Eby believed that highly trained physiotherapists and kinesiologists in this province would simply provide so called “enhanced” care for less money, he wassorely naïve. An alternate explanation is that Mr. Eby’s stated goal of providing care for injured persons is misdirection. Perhaps his real goal is to save ICBC money at the expense of injured people in British Columbia.

Written by Wes Mussio of Mussio Goodman

ICBC Further Increasing Staffing Costs

Posted on by Mussio Goodman

The NDP government says it’s trying to cut costs at ICBC, then why are they increasing their costs instead?

On March 29, 2019, the NDP government passed an Order in Council eliminating the two-year limitation period to submit medical expense receipts to ICBC for coverage under part seven benefits. Instead, they shorted the limitation period to 60 days.

The NDP government is trying to sell the new no-fault system to the public on the basis that ICBC is going to pay more medical expenses to all parties involved in a motor vehicle accident after April 1, 2019. However, in reality this new rule does the exact opposite by taking away more rights.

The new provision found at Section 88.01 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation reads as follows:

 

Requirement for receipts 

88.01 (1) If an accident occurs for which benefits are provided under section 88, the insured must provide to the corporation a receipt for the expenses incurred that will be compensated as benefits under that section no later than 60 days from the date that those expenses are incurred.
(2) The corporation is not liable to an insured who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with this section.

This provision is for motor vehicle accidents that occur on or after April 1, 2019.

The expenses include medical equipment for some very catastrophic injuries such as:

(i) a wheelchair;

(ii) a medically prescribed bed;

(iii) bowel and bladder equipment;

(iv) aids for communication, dressing, eating, grooming and hygiene;

(v) transfer equipment; and

(vi) a ventilator;

People that are severely injured, such as quadriplegia, amputation, severe brain injury, etc. are expected now to submit receipts within 60 days even if the terribly injured individual is still in the early stages of recovery. Do you really think these terribly injured individuals will have the wherewithal of meeting such a short deadline? Can they even get to a post office to mail the receipts?

Even for the less injured individual, it is going to be an onerous task to remember to constantly be submitting receipts to ICBC. Indeed, people are busy in life and to expect a claimant to constantly be submitting receipts to ICBC is unrealistic.

So why are the NDP and ICBC putting in this short-fuse rule? Are they hoping that a claimant misses the deadline so that they can save money by not reimbursing proper medical and rehabilitation expenses? Of course not because according to what the NDP is selling to the public, the system is supposed to be providing more not less treatment expense coverage.

 

ICBCs’ Motive

What is the other motivation for doing this?

Any business owner would understand that the more times you have to touch a file the more expensive it is to administer the file. There is approximately 60,000 new claims annually so with this short-fuse rule, rather than an adjuster having to address payment of medical expenses on a periodic basis, now the adjuster has to constantly be administering small checks and reimbursement to claimants because there is such a tight timeline for submission of the receipts to ICBC. If the receipts have to come in every 60 days, then you are looking at a minimum of six times a year were an adjuster will have to review the receipts, issue a check, mail out the check, etc. This is clearly administratively onerous resulting in significant increase in costs and the need for more staffing at ICBC.

Is this just an oversight by the NDP government and/ or ICBC management on the extra cost this 60 day short-fuse requirement has created? Do these new policies by the NDP government ensure the need for more unionized ICBC employees? Is this an attempt by the NDP government to hope people miss the deadline so that they don’t have to pay out money for necessary medical expenses and treatment?

Whichever way you look at it, this is an unfair change of the rules which penalizes the injured while increasing the administration costs at ICBC.

Mussio Goodman to file a Lawsuit on behalf of Commercial Drive Businesses to Ensure Fortis BC Fairly Compensates the Businesses for Severe Disruption of Business

Posted on by Mussio Goodman

Many owners and renters of businesses along Commercial Drives sustained severe loss of revenues when FortisBC closed 1st Avenue for months in order to place a new 30 inch gas line under 1st Avenue. Businesses collectively approached Fortis BC asking for fair compensation for the severe negative intrusion into their businesses to which Fortis BC denied any compensation whatsoever.

In other words, Fortis BC send the strong message that it is okay to severely compromise other businesses so that Fortis BC can enjoy development and presumably profits from the development. To quote a recent Fortis BC representative, “we don’t generally compensate anyone for our actions despite the impact…”. The end result is that the Commercial Drive businesses have been forced to take legal action as Fortis BC has made it is clear that in order to improve profitability of their pipelines, they are not prepared to compensate anyone despite severely impacted businesses.

Client, Federico Fuoco, spoke to Global News and CTV about his business, Federico’s Supper Club, being negatively impacted by FortisBC.

“A lot of these businesses are small businesses. They can’t afford any loss, let alone 20 to 50 per cent,” Fuoco said to CTV.

Mr. Fuoco also stated to Global News that “They kept saying to us that they would do it and it was just a matter of time, and then for them to renege like that and tell us to lawyer up was quite a surprise actually, quite a shock”.

Thankfully, Mr. Fuoco and business owners in his position have hired Wes Mussio of Mussio Goodman, who will ensure they get their fair compensation for their loss of revenue.

Read and watch Federico Fuoco’s Interview with Global News: Commercial Drive businesses set to launch court action against FortisBC over 1st Ave. closure

Read Federico Fuoco’s Interview with CTV: Gas line replacement leads to traffic disruptions in Coquitlam

Mussio Goodman Successfully Obtains Court Order Striking a Jury

Posted on by Mussio Goodman

In a recent court decision, Mussio Goodman ensured that their client will have a fair trial

ICBC is entitled to have a jury hear his or her case as of right. However, there are times when it is unfair to the injured party to have a jury decide their case because it is too complicated for the jury to understand. In these circumstances the injured party can apply to the court to have the jury struck, and have the case decided by only a judge.

In the recent court decision of Forstved v. Kokabi, 2018 BCSC 1878, Mussio Goodman ensured that their client will have a fair trial by obtaining an order to remove the jury.

Removing the defendant’s right to a jury is a tough thing to do, and the court will only do so where the injured party makes a strong argument that the case involves prolonged examination of documents and/or is overly complex.

 

Mussio Goodman’s Argument

In determining whether it is convenient to have a jury hear the evidence Courts have noted that jury members are to be considered quite capable, as referenced by Master Dick:

[27] The context in which a court is obliged to apply Rule 12-6(5) was set out by Madam Justice Arnold-Bailey in Gulamani v. Chandra, 2009 BCSC 1042 at para 43:

…juries in this province are held to be informed and intelligent and capable of assessing expert evidence where it is properly presented. In other words, the threshold for determining whether a prolonged examination of documents or a scientific investigation is necessary and whether it can be conveniently done by a jury … or whether the issues are of a complex or intricate nature … is relatively high even in the context of a long trial with many difficult legal questions.

Mussio Goodman argued on behalf of the plaintiff that the trial could not be conveniently heard by a jury:

[30] Counsel for the plaintiff submits that this matter will require prolonged examination of documents and scientific investigation such that it cannot be conveniently heard by a jury. There is disagreement as to whether the plaintiff sustained a concussion in the accident, a mild traumatic brain injury, and/or a brain injury of any severity. There is a difference of opinion as to whether the plaintiff suffers from any cognitive disabilities as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident…

 

ICBC’s Argument

On the other hand ICBC argued that the case was a typical one, well understandable by the jury. By providing an in-depth overview of their case, Mussio Goodman convinced the court that the high bar to remove the defendant’s right to a jury had been passed and the complexity of the case warranted a trial with only a judge. Master Dick concluded:

[50] In this case, I agree with the plaintiff. The evidence in this case is sufficient to establish that this case will require a prolonged examination of documents or accounts and that the issues require a scientific or local investigation.

[54] If I was just considering the number of experts, the expert’s use of terminology, the volume of medical evidence, and divergent opinions alone, that would not necessarily cause me to strike the jury in this case. What makes this case more difficult is the fact the plaintiff’s income and business losses are not straightforward. The jury will have to review and understand the plaintiff and his spouse’s income tax information as well as the financial statements from all of the corporations he owned. The jury will then have to analyze, understand, and interpret the documents to assess his income and business loss.

Ensuring a fair trial means having lawyers who understand the law, what arguments to make, and the best strategy for your particular case.