Thursday, August 12, 2010

B.C. Court: Loss of "Promising" Law Career Assessed at $5.1 Million

In a decision released August 9, 2010, a Britsh Columbia Supreme Court Judge has assessed the value of a young lawyer's loss of income capacity, after injuries arising from an unfortunate dance hall accident essentially ended her budding legal career.

In assessing these economic damages at $5.1 million, The Honourable Mr. Justice Kelleher noted the Plaintiff's potential value as a "rainmaker" to prospective, large-firm employers:
[325] Mr. Mallett also noted that the plaintiff was very effective at bringing new clients into the firm. She brought in work that was above her level of expertise, which is unexpected for a junior lawyer.
[326] Mr. Pakrul stated that the plaintiff had “above average ability, perhaps extraordinary ability to successfully market in cold-call situations where she didn’t know anybody and in situations where she was simply working with existing contacts or clients.”
[327] Peter Snell was also a lawyer at Alexander Holburn, becoming a partner in 2003. He agreed that the plaintiff had very good business development skills.
[328] I accept that the plaintiff had the skill to become a successful rainmaker, and would likely bring a substantial volume of business to whatever firm she worked for. However, as counsel for Lombard points out, it is important to keep in mind that the plaintiff was only a junior associate with limited experience at the time she left Alexander Holburn. Accordingly, some caution must be exercised in basing a pattern of future success or “rainmaking” on this relatively short period of employment.
[329] The four considerations listed in Brown v. Golaiy are all present here: Ms. Danicek has been rendered less capable overall from earning income from all types of employment; the plaintiff is less marketable or attractive; she has lost the opportunity of taking advantage of all job opportunities which might otherwise have been available to her; and is less valuable to herself as a person capable of earning income.
[330] It is highly likely that she would have stayed in the workforce and achieved a substantial income as a successful commercial solicitor.
[331] Ms. Danicek has a residual earning capacity which I have described above.
[332] In all the circumstances, a fair and reasonable assessment of the plaintiff’s loss of capacity, net of her residual earning ability, is $5.1 million. It is so awarded.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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