Court Awards Discretionary Amount For Loss of Housekeeping Capacity

Plaintiff awarded discretionary amount was pregnant when she suffered various soft tissue injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident

In the case GREWAL-CHEEMA V. TASSONE, 2010 BCSC 1182 (“TASSONE”), released on August 23, 2010, the Court awarded damages for “loss of housekeeping and childcare capacity”, despite the joint Defendants’ arguments against such an award. In this case, the Plaintiff was pregnant when she suffered various soft tissue injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident. These injuries lasted approximately 18 months, preventing her from carrying out certain activities around the home both before and after the birth of her child.

The first argument made by the Defendants in TASSONE was that an award for loss of housekeeping and childcare capacity was inappropriate because there had been no specific pleading relating to the subject matter. This was found not to be an obstacle to recovery because “it is inherent in the nature of a complaint by a plaintiff positioned as this plaintiff was positioned that just such a claim for damages will be made” (at paragraph 62). The Court also held that British Columbia law does not require the pleading of a discrete head of damages for loss of housekeeping capacity, citing MCTAVISH V. MACGILLIVRAY, 2000 BCCA 164.

After calculating the number of hours the Plaintiff lost due to her inability to perform household chores, the Court cited CAMPBELL V. BANMAN, 2009 BCCA 484 for the proposition that the rate of $15 per hour should be referred to when assessing an award under this head of damages. Based on this rate and the number of lost housekeeping and childcare hours it had calculated, the Court reached a number of $16,000. However, the Court also referred at paragraph 63 to the holding in CAMPBELL V. BANMAN that courts must “remember that there has not been any actual expenditure and not to be seduced by arithmetic”.

The Court in TASSONE reinforced the necessity of an appropriate exercise of judgment, holding at paragraphs 66-67 that:

In my opinion the court must be cautious in a case such as this lest a defendant be done an injustice.  In the case at bar it is my opinion that an award of $12,000 under this head of damages will compensate the plaintiff adequately for her loss.

As demanded by the case law I “step away” and look at the overall award for reasonableness in the circumstances.  In my opinion it is reasonable

The Court’s reduction of the mathematically calculated housekeeping loss by $4,000 (25%) in TASSONEreinforces the idea that courts are not bound by any rigid formula when assessing loss of housekeeping and/or childcare capacity. While it is important that the value of housekeeping and childcare is not diminished, courts must utilize their discretion and consider an appropriate award in light of concerns regarding fairness to the defendant and the unique circumstances of the case.

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