In November of 2007, Mr. H. Rapp was behind the wheel of a moving vehicle when it collided with the back of a dump truck driven by Mr. R. Bhogal (owned by KHM Trucking Inc) who was at the time stationary and about to make a left turn to his final destination. Mr. Rapp’s vehicle was then hit by another from behind, driven by Mr. C. Hynes and was seriously injured from the accident.
Here we will focus on the trial which addressed liability between Mr. Rapp (plaintiff) and Mr. Bhogal and KHM Trucking (defendants). Within a short period of time from start of the trial, a jury decided that Mr. Rapp was one hundred percent liable for the injuries he suffered from the accident. The defendants in the case were found to be free of liability.
The defendants sought costs of a little over two hundred thousand dollars (including disbursements and taxes) on the grounds that they were entitled to the customary cost consequences that accompanied the dismissal of a suit.
The plaintiff disagreed and believed that the defendants should not receive any monetary compensation. He believed primarily that the defendants purposely delayed the trial; that it would be unfair to impose costs on him in his already strained financial and physical state. He also believed that the costs claimed by the defendant were duplicated and excessive and there were deliberate delays in disclosure.
Upon reviewing the case, the Judge found that any costs awarded, based on legal principle should show practicality and fairness versus awarding literal costs incurred. He ruled that the plaintiff did owe the defendants partial indemnity; what was to be determined now, was how much.
The Judge agreed with the plaintiff on two points; that the costs were excessive and duplicative and that the case was increasingly costly due to the defendant’s stalling the progression of the proceedings.
The defendants were offered many opportunities for bifurcation between April and November of 2013. They accepted in November what was offered initially in May, changing counsel along the way. For that period of time, the Judge concluded that the plaintiff should not have to suffer some of the unnecessary costs incurred during that time.
The Judge did not see any proof to validate the plaintiff’s claim that he was unable to pay any costs. The plaintiff fell short in supplying evidence to solidify that claim, and while the Judge was empathetic, he could not make a ruling in his favor.
He also saw that the defendant was challenged on the changes in his testimony at discovery and then at trial, and the jury assessed for themselves and still made their decision in his favor. Also, there were avenues to address the issue of untimely disclosure during the trial and the plaintiff did not use the opportunity.
The Judge did not see the defendants’ actions as so unjust as to warrant complete dismissal of costs. The defendants were awarded roughly eighty eight thousand dollars, less than half of what they claimed initially.
Every case is different and can have varying outcomes. It is wise to ensure that you are professionally represented by an experienced personal injury law firm. Call us today, for your free initial consultation.