Articles Posted in Legal News

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In the November 6, 2015 edition of the Law Times, personal injury lawyer Brian Goldfinger wrote an article entitled “Three Day Summary Judgment Mini Trial”You can find a link to Mr. Goldfinger’s article here as reproduced in the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.

Our lawyers were wondering when such a situation would occur? How does what seems to be a routine summary judgment motion where Affidavit evidence, and transcript evidence along with case law which is presented to a Judge, get converted to a mini trial or trial of an issue?

In what situation would this occur? How, why, when and by what mechanism does a Judge order a mini trial or trial of an issue in an Ontario personal injury law case?

Hot off the press, here might be your answer to those questions (and more):

CITATION: Minke v. Hartman, 2017 ONSC 3922

COURT FILE NO.: C-584-15

DATE: 2017/06/27

ONTARIO

SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE

BETWEEN: )

)

 
Steven Minke, Linda Minke, Cameron Minke and Brittany Minke

Plaintiffs

– and –

Stephen Hartman, Foot Works and Foot Works Inc.

Defendants

)

))

) )

) )

) )

)

)

Brian R. Goldfinger and Azka Ashan, for the Plaintiffs
Anna L. Marrison and John McIntyre, for the Defendants
  )  
  )  
  ) HEARD: April 12, 2017

THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE G.E. TAYLOR

REASONS FOR JUDGMENT

Introduction

  • This is a motion for summary judgment by the defendants seeking to dismiss the action due to the expiration of the limitation period.
  • Stephen Hartman is a chiropodist registered to practice in the Province of Ontario. From March, 2006 until November, 2010, Hartman provided footcare treatment to Steven Minke through his chiropody clinic in relation to Minke’s diabetic condition. While being treated by Hartman, Minke developed Charcot foot.
  • On May 15, 2012, Minke underwent a below the knee amputation of his right leg as a result of the Charcot foot.
  • By way of a report dated January 5, 2015, Dr. Perry Mayer a physician who specializes in the treatment of feet of diabetics and in particular the treatment of Charcot foot opined:

Had the appropriate treatment been undertaken at the initial presentation of foot deformity, Mr. Minke would not have lost his limb.

and,

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If you’ve been seriously hurt or injured in an accident; or you’ve been denied long term disability benefits by your insurer, you will likely need to retain a lawyer.

But, not just any lawyer. You will need a personal injury lawyer. Here are some quick tips on what to look for when selecting a personal injury lawyer:

  1. Make sure that they practice personal injury law exclusively! Don’t get a lawyer who dabbles in the odd personal injury or LTD matter. If you needed brain surgery, would you get a surgeon who does the occasional brain surgery, or would you want a brain surgeon who concentrates exclusively on brain surgery? The answer is obvious. Getting a so called “dabbler” is a recipe for disaster. Your case is too important to be messing around with.
  2. Does your personal injury lawyer actually do the work, or is your file being referred out of house? Do you want your lawyer referring your file elsewhere, or do you want your personal injury lawyer to be doing the work? If your file is being referred elsewhere, are you being charged a referral fee upon recovery which comes out of your award? If so, how much is that referral fee? If I were an injured accident victim, I would ensure that the lawyer who I retained was in fact doing the work which s/he was retained to do and not a law firm who I’ve never met with or heard of.
  3. Make sure you’re meeting with a lawyer, and not a “runner”: We have heard horror stories of accident victims in hospital who have been approached by people who represent themselves to be lawyers, when they aren’t. These people try to get unsuspecting accident victims and their families to sign paper work so that they can bill the insurer for services, or so that they can take their cases to law firms or paralegals to being working on their files. Our law firm has reported such incidents to the Financial Services Commission Fraud Hotline . Sadly, not much has come of our tips to the fraud hotline other than a few investigations which didn’t go anywhere for reasons unbeknownst to us. In any event, be weary of non lawyers posing as lawyer trying to get you to sign on the dotted line.

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Medical experts, along with their reports, are major pieces of evidence in any serious personal injury case in Ontario.

The testimony of a Plaintiff, and that of a Defendant, will likely be self serving.

The Injured Accident Victim Plaintiff will take the stand and provide evidence that the accident was not their fault, and as a result of the accident; that they are seriously injured and can no longer lead a normal life.

The Defendant in a personal injury case will say the exact opposite. The accident was not their fault, and that the Plaintiff did not appear to be injured at all in the accident.

With testimony which is so diametrically opposed; how is a Judge or Jury supposed to decide who is telling the truth? Certainly the credibility and likeability of the parties comes in to play. But there is another major factor as well.

That’s where medical experts come enter the scene. These are often doctors, hired by the Plaintiff’s lawyer, or the Defendant’s lawyer to provide expert testimony or evidence in support of the case, one way of the other. The testimony of these experts, along with the evidence which they tender in to Court can be very persuasive. It’s often the difference between a successful or unsuccessful case. The battle of experts is very real, and it’s very important in a personal injury case.

Medico-legal experts in the context of personal injury cases have come under fire in recent months. A National Post story entitled “Hired Gun in a Lab Coat: How Medical Experts Help Car Insurers Fight Accident Claims” is a fantastic read which sheds some light on how the business of medico-legal experts plays out.

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Personal Injury Lawyer Brian Goldfinger drew inspiration for the proceeding entry of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog from Nick, famous YouTube Star of wildly entertaining, and super high quality Pokemon GO! channel; Trainer Tips. Check out his channel if you haven’t already.

Shout out to Nick for all of the hard work he does uploading daily videos to his channel. The guy doesn’t mail in his entries. The production quality on his YouTube channel is top notch. While his channel deals with the game Pokemon GO!, he also covers such topics as food, travel and general life tips.

Nick has raised thousands of dollars for tsunami relief in Japan through his channel and has entertained/educated, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. He has close to 600,000 subscribers for a Pokemon GO! channel which is remarkable, even though he believes that his numbers are going down (through no fault of his own…that’s on Niantic!)

In addition, the makers of Pokemon GO! (Niantic) have been rather lame with respect to updating the game, and failing to release new content (Generation Two). This has resulted in a slow down of game play, and a slow down in interest in the game itself. But Nick is still finding ways to entertain daily, which is a testament to his creativity, positivity, perseverance, and talent. Love it!

So, how does Nick’s YouTube channel relate to personal injury law in Ontario Canada? Good question!

Recently, Nick had to go in for Jury Duty Selection at a downtown Courthouse. He was dismissed. You can check out Nick’s great take on Jury Duty at the 4:57 mark of his YouTube Video. 

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New cases are released all the time. In Canada’s common law system, new cases help build and develop our legal system. Think of it as an ever changing, evolving, legal landscape.

Some cases stay the course. Other cases change things slightly. But some cases make your eyes POP and make you question “what was going on in the Courtroom during the trial” or “what were they thinking when they released this decision“?!?!?!?

To kick off 2017 for car accident law cases in Ontario, we have one of those decisions that makes you go “hmmmmmm” and really scratch your head.

Ladies and gentlemen; I hereby introduce you to the Judge and Jury decision of Bodenstein v. Penley, 2017 ONSC 27. This case was just released at the start of 2017.

This was jury trial which appears to have lasted over the course of a few weeks, perhaps even more. A few things to note about this case:

  1. The car accident took place on August 22, 2003
  2. The Jury was charged, meaning that the meat and bones of the trial was done on December 21, 2016
  3. The Judge then released her decision on a motion on liability alone on January 3, 2017

That means that from the date of the car accident, until the date that the trial decision was released from the Judge; 4883 days had passed!!!! For all you geeks out there, that’s 13 years, 4 months and 12 days from car accident to final verdict!!!! Talk about a long time to wait to have your day in Court!

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When a client walks through our doors, they will meet with me, Brian Goldfinger; the owner and directing lawyer of Goldfinger Personal Injury Law. I’m the Goldfinger in the Goldfinger Law.

My firm employs other lawyers, paralegals and clerks who assist me. But there are no hidden partners or agents outside of my law firm who you are being passed along to for the legal work on your case. If we take on your case, we will do the work. Your file, along with your personal and confidential information stays with our law firm. It doesn’t get passed along to another lawyer or law firm who you’ve never met or heard of.

What you see is what you get. No games. No gimmicks. Our clients have responded well to this approach; which has helped our law firm grow, one satisfied client at a time. We currently boast four offices across Ontario, with the ability to serve clients across the province.

All our law firm does is Plaintiff side personal injury law. We do not practice on behalf of large insurance companies which defend people. Nor do we practice in any other areas outside of the field of Plaintiff side personal injury and insurance law. Our practice is devoted to suing on behalf of injured accident victims and disability claimants so that they can get the results, compensation and benefits which they deserve.

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There was a great comedy sketch on the Rick Mercer Report last night regarding Winter Driving during the first snow fall of the season.

The Canadian husband and wife drivers experienced a sort of amnesia; such that they forgot how to drive when it snowed. These grizzled Canadians had experienced countless winters before; but driving during that first snow fall of the season was like their first time driving in snow…EVER!

The husband said that he began to lose control of the car because of the snow, and then thought it would be a good idea to drive faster, break harder, and follow other cars more closely because of the snow fall. Thinking this would be a great way to regain control of his car when it began to slide.

The wife suggested turning her lights off during the snow fall to make driving in the snow easier.

They said, that with every snow flake, their memory of Canadian Winter driving got worse and worse. It was because every snow flake was “different”, and they had to adjust their tactics for each flake. They ended up doing the exact opposite of what they ought to have done. Comedy ensued.

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It’s not very often that judgments from the criminal court system impact personal injury and car accident cases.

It’s particularly rare when a criminal case which was decided in British Columbia, has such a far reaching effect that it impacts the way and timing in which personal injury cases are heard in Ontario.

But the case we are about to review is no ordinary case…..

Today’s installment of the Toronto Injury Blog will focus on a unique decision from the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Jordan [2016] SCJ No 27 (QL).

This was an appeal which went all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada, from the BC Court of Appeal, and the BC Supreme Court.

The accused, Mr. Jordan, was charged with various charges in a dial a dope operation. He was charged in December 2008. His trial ended in February 2013. What’s a dial a dope operation? It doesn’t really matter for the context of this analysis.

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Recently, contingency fee agreements in Ontario for personal injury cases have come under attack. Seeing this sort of news is very disappointing and disheartening. A recent decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal on this issue was highlighted in the news. Here is a link to a quick article. I cannot comment on what the former lawyer did in that case, but it’s certainly does not appear to be good for the legal profession.

A contingency fee agreement is a fancy legal term for an agreement between an client (injured accident victim) and a lawyer/law firm whereby the law firm’s legal fees are based entirely on the success of the case. If the lawyer works many many years, and invests many many hours on a case, but the lawyer isn’t able to recover any money on the case, then the lawyer gets ZERO. But, if the lawyer is successful in winning/resolving the case for fair compensation, then the lawyer gets paid their legal fees based on a percentage of the recovery in the case. If there is no money at stake in a case, then a contingency fee cannot work. Contingency fee agreements don’t only exist in personal injury cases. Other lawyers in different practice areas use them as well.Contingency fees in the context of criminal cases are rare, if not unheard of. I have never heard of a criminal lawyer take a case on the basis that s/he will only get paid if s/he wins on behalf of their client. I suppose it can happen, but what that fee will be for winning would have to be worked out at the outset of the case.

In a contingency fee relationship, the client and the lawyer form a team. I like that. The more money the lawyer recovers on behalf of the client, the more money the lawyer can recover in legal fees. And vice versa, if the lawyer recovers ZERO, then the lawyer gets ZERO. This sort of arrangement works for a variety of reasons.

I would like to illustrate one of the biggest reasons by sharing a story with you.

When I was in University, I worked for Sears Canada. I worked in the hardware and paint departments. This was an odd fit, because I’m neither a handy person nor a painter. But, I must admit that I learned a lot; both about hardware and painting. The money I earned from Sears went towards my University education. I paid for school by working at Sears. For this reason alone, I appreciated that Sears kept me gainfully employed throughout my College years so that I could make ends meet.

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Personal Injury lawyers across North America widely advertise that they provide “free consultations“. It’s a widely accepted industry standard. I don’t know any reputable personal injury law firms who don’t provide a free consultation, or free consultations thereafter. You may be hard pressed to find another area of the law where face to face consultations are provided for free. A lawyer’s commodity is their time. Lawyers don’t have any dry goods to sell you like bagels, I-Phones or shoes. All lawyers have is their time, and the work product from that time which generally manifests in the form of thoughtful and meticulously prepared letters, pleadings and other documents which clients have requested or need for their respective cases.

So, when a lawyer provides you with a free consultation, it’s important for that consultation not to be a waste of time. How can we make these consultations as productive as possible for everyone involved.

Generally, the lawyer will already have done his/her research on you, the client, BEFORE you step foot through the door. A quick Google Search, or search on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter can tell us volumes. If the accident was a high profile accident that was covered on TV or in newspapers, then a quick internet search can give us a good starting point in terms of how the accident, where, and when the accident took place. It can also give the lawyer a starting point on the nature of the injuries, if these were reported accurately. Certainly, the client’s version of events will be more important than what’s been reported in the media as it’s not often accurate. But, it does give the lawyer a starting point.

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