Canadian Underwriter

Depression, psychoses based on physical brain injury not “too remote for recovery”: Ontario Superior Court

December 23, 2008   by Canadian Underwriter

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Pychoses caused by right-hemisphere brain damage arising from a car collision are not “too remote to allow for recovery,” the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has found, distinguishing the case from the facts found in the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Mustapha.
In Chinsang v. Bridson, the Ontario court denied a motion by the defendant, Christopher Bridson, to find injuries sustained by Michael Chinsang in a car collision “too remote to allow recovery.”
Chinsang suffered neck, chest, arm, leg, back and head injuries when involved in a motor vehicle accident on Apr. 2, 2001. The jury found that Chinsang also suffered from memory loss, elevated anxiety and increased depression.
Doctors testified at trial that depression and psychosis are possible results of mild brain injuries.
A jury awarded Chinsang almost Cdn$1 million in damages — including Cdn$150,000 in general damages for pain and suffering, lost income of Cdn$43,000 and special damages for future loss of earning capacity of Cdn$800,000.
Bridson asked the judge to overturn the jury verdict on the basis that the psychoses suffered by Chinsang were symptomatic of depression or schizophrenia and therefore were not related to the effects of the collision. In doing so, Bridson relied on the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Mustapha, in which the court overturned a jury award of Cdn$341,000 because it ruled that the psychological trauma Waddah (Martin) Mustapha suffered upon seeing dead flies in his bottled drinking water were too remote from the actual injury sustained to warrant recovery.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Peter H.Howden distinguished Chinsang from Mustapha, however, saying that, unlike in Mustapha, there was a “real risk” that the psychoses suffered by Chinsang were the outcome of a physical brain injury suffered in the collision.
“The case before me has no resemblance to a unique reaction based on a highly individual constellation of psychological attributes such as that of Mustapha, where no physical injury occurred at all,” the judge wrote.