ICBC Recently Found Guilty for Malicious Prosecution
A recent decision handed down by the British Columbia Supreme Court (Arsenovski v. Bodin, 2016 BCSC 359) has ordered ICBC to pay $350,000.00 in punitive damages for the malicious prosecution of a refugee.
Danica Arsenovski, a refugee from the former Yugoslavia, was taking a walk with her husband. Mrs. Arsenovski sustained injuries from dodging a car that struck her husband. Mrs. Arsenovski gave evidence about the event to an ICBC adjuster, who then concluded that Mrs. Arsenovski had provided a false statement. ICBC made a recommendation to Crown Counsel requesting that charges be made against the Arsenovskis, including fraud over $5,000.00 subject to the Criminal Code, and making a false statement subject to the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act. The Crown decided to pursue the charge of making a false statement contrary to the Insurance Act, but subsequently stayed the charges just prior to trial.
Shortly after the false statement charge was dropped, Mrs. Arsenovski pursued an action in malicious prosecution and negligence against ICBC and two of its employees, Mr. Bodin and Mr. Gould.
Mrs. Arsenovski was successful at trial. She was awarded legal fees and disbursements of $7,225.34, as well as $30,000.00 for emotional damage caused by the malicious prosecution charges. However, the most striking aspect of Mrs. Arsenovski’s trial was an award of punitive damages for $350,000.00. Punitive damages are meant to be proportional to the blameworthiness of the defendant’s conduct, to the degree of vulnerability of the plaintiff, to the harm or potential harm directed specifically at the plaintiff, and more.
In her decision, Madam Justice Griffin concluded that she found ICBC’s conduct “so high-handed, reprehensible and malicious that it offends this Court’s sense of decency and is deserving of the punishment of punitive damages.” Furthermore, Madam Justice Griffin asserted that “the conduct of the liable defendants was high on the scale of blameworthiness… The defendant ICBC is a public insurance company. As an insurance company it is expected to act in good faith. As a public company, its employees are also expected to meet high standards of professional conduct…Not only were the public resources of ICBC wasted by the malicious prosecution of Mrs. Arsenovski, it was foreseeable that this would lead to wasting of the public resources of Crown counsel and judicial resources on the day the case came to trial.”
The courts in British Columbia recognize that there is a high standard of decency and public servitude for public companies like ICBC. In order to ensure you are receiving this high standard of service, contact a lawyer prior to filing your claim.