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Fast Track Actions and Stacking Damages

Do multiple notices of fast track aggregate, or must all the actions globally fit within the limitations?

In a recent chambers decision, Master Baker discussed the practicalities of having multiple fast track actions heard together while still remaining in fast track (De Jesus v John Doe 2017 BCSC 723).  In the case at bar, the plaintiff has been in two collisions, and his counsel had filed notices of fast track for each collision.  Plaintiff counsel wanted the matters heard together, with the intention of ‘stacking’ the fast track limitations for trial time and damages.  Defence counsel applied to remove the matter from fast track, arguing that plaintiff counsel’s filing of fast track notices was simply “gamesmanship” to avoid a jury.   Counsel for the defendants further argued that the plaintiff should not be allowed to aggregate the claimable damages for a fast track matters (up to $100,000.00) across actions, thereby claiming up to $200,000.00 as a global settlement for both actions.

Allowing an aggregate effect, argued counsel for the defendants, “extrapolates to an absurdity.  You could have four trials, say four actions heard together, possibly $400,000.00.”  Justice Baker disagreed, noting that this so-called absurdity was an “obvious and logical application of the rule.”  He noted that an aggregate effect was clearly allowed by the Rule:

[19]         Again, I go back to this quantum. Much was said about that, that the aggregate quantum is $200,000. I do not see why that should be an exception to the other aspects of the rule and the cases that have been cited under it that I have already referred to, which is the aggregate effect under costs, the aggregate effect under discovery can be greater than the individual. Of course they can. I do not see why that should not apply to damages.

[…]

[21]         The efficiencies obtained by hearing two cases or three cases together should not somehow quietly militate against a party relying upon their rights under the fast track procedure. I do not see it. Again, I said earlier, I am surprised there is not clear law on this, but there is not, and that may be because the rule is fairly clear.

The defendant’s application to have the matter removed from fast track was dismissed.

 

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