Court Awards $8000 For an “In-Trust” Claim For Services Rendered by Family Members

Court considered whether it was appropriate to make an “in-trust” award

In EGGLESTON V. WATSON, 2010 BCSC 890, a judgement released on June 24, 2010, the Court considered whether it was appropriate to make an “in-trust” award for services rendered by the Plaintiff’s wife and daughter.  The Plaintiff in this case was seriously injured when struck by an intoxicated driver as he walked along the shoulder of a road.

The Court considered the services rendered by the Plaintiff’s family members at para. 220:

There is no doubt that both Mrs. Eggleston and Ms. Palfi devoted significant amounts of time and energy to caring for Mr. Eggleston while he was unable to look after himself due to the physical injuries he suffered in the collision, the debilitating pain he continued to suffer for many months thereafter, and the cognitive difficulties that have plagued his recovery.

However, before reaching its decision as to whether an in-trust claim should be allowed, the Court considered the recent holdings of the Court of Appeal in DYKEMAN V. POROHOWSKI, 2010 BCCA 36, 1 B.C.L.R. (5th) 246 (“DYKEMAN”).

The Court in DYKEMAN affirmed past holdings that gratuitous services rendered by family members of a plaintiff have economic value, but also noted the need for restraint, holding at para. 29 that:

… Claims for gratuitous services must be carefully scrutinized, both with respect to the nature of the services — were they simply part of the usual ‘give and take’ between family members, or did they go ‘above and beyond’ that level? — and with respect to causation — were the services necessitated by the plaintiff’s injuries or would they have been provided in any event? Finally, if these questions — which I would have thought are appropriate for determination by a jury — are answered affirmatively, the amount of compensation must be commensurate with the plaintiff’s loss.

(Emphasis in original).

The Court in EGGLESTON found that the services rendered by the Plaintiff’s wife and daughter exceeded those that might be considered part of the normal “give and take” between family members. The Court found that the Plaintiff’s wife attended to all of his needs during the months of near total incapacitation that followed the collision, taking responsibility for all of the work that the Plaintiff would have done if not for the accident.

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