Victim of negligent Toronto lawyer wins partial compensation after years of court battles

A man who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of a negligent Toronto lawyer has finally received partial compensation, years after winning a court judgment that has proven unenforceable.

The $150,000 payout to Nalliah Balachandran late last month came after The Canadian Press reported in December on a glaring gap in the insurance system designed to protect victims of unscrupulous or incompetent Ontario lawyers.

“This money will help,” Mr. Balachandran said. “At least I can pay off some debts.”

Mr. Balachandran, 64, now of Calgary, had been unable to collect on $188,646 in damages an Ontario Superior Court justice awarded him in 2012 against lawyer Michael (Mike) J. Webster, who was disbarred after an avalanche of complaints.

Other cases The Canadian Press reviewed turned up several people who had lost out on compensation for car-crash injuries or ended up in jail because lawyers failed to do their jobs. None was able to collect on court-ordered damages, even though all members of Ontario’s legal profession must carry liability coverage through the insurance company known as LawPro.

Despite judicial criticism of the situation, LawPro denies coverage when lawyers fail to report a client’s claim against them or refuse to help defend the action. The result is usually disbarment – and clients left without access to compensation.

Several lawyers trying to help hapless clients expressed dismay that LawPro, owned by the 50,000-member Law Society of Ontario and with assets of close to $735-million, would take that position.

“It’s very unfair and unfortunate – and to my mind shocking,” one lawyer, Ava Hillier, said last year. “People need to know that they’ve got nothing if their lawyer just decides not to pick up the phone.”

What lawyers involved in such cases said they had never heard of is a policy the law society adopted in 1997. It provides victims of lawyers access to an internal compensation fund when LawPro declines coverage. The fund can reimburse victims up to $500,000.

Days after an interview with its treasurer last November, the law society updated its website to explicitly refer to the obscure policy. Five claims, including Mr. Balachandran’s, have since been made against the fund, one quarter of all claims in 1997. Two have been settled.

A spokeswoman said that over the past 20 years, the fund has paid out a total of $552,565 for 14 claims involving 13 lawyers – a fraction of the $100-million LawPro lays out for claims annually.

“Our focus as the regulator is on protecting the public, and, as per our policy, the Law Society’s compensation fund will consider claims where LawPro coverage is denied in special circumstances – where a lawyer fails to report a claim to the professional liability insurer or fails to co-operate with the insurer,” Susan Tonkin said.

Mr. Balachandran, who works for Alberta Health Services, received his cheque for the maximum amount in effect at the time of his initial claim. A timely payout, he said, would have spared him and his wife years of stress and tens of thousands of dollars in interest on mounting debts he still can’t pay off.

He also faulted the society for its previous failure to make the compensation fund widely known, potentially saving him from a fruitless battle to collect the almost $200,000 Mr. Webster now owes him and which the law society will try to recover.

As important, he said, is the law society’s move to transparency about the 1997 policy.

“It’s going to help not just me but the whole community,” Mr. Balachandran said.

LawPro, which has been subject to several lawsuits over its refusal to cover such cases, has called such situations rare. It has defended the mandatory insurance program as being in the best interests of the public and Ontario lawyers.

Hub International Acquires Ontario-based PDF Financial Group Inc.

Chicago, October 8, 2019Hub International Limited (Hub), a leading global insurance brokerage, announced today that it has acquired PDF Financial Group Inc. (PDF). Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, PDF is an independent brokerage offering consulting and outsourcing services for employee benefit programs, human resources, and related financial advice. Peter Demangos, Founder and President of PDF, will join Hub International Ontario Limited (Hub Ontario).

The move continues to reinforce Hub’s ongoing Canadian employee benefits growth and services strategy to expand its best-in-class employee benefits and retirement solution, addressing the challenges clients are facing, including in benefits communication, health and wellness, and retirement.

About Hub’s M&A Activities
Hub International Limited is committed to growing organically and through acquisitions to expand its geographic footprint and strengthen industry and product expertise. For more information on the Hub M&A experience, visit WeAreHub.com.

About Hub International
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Hub International Limited is a leading full-service global insurance broker providing property and casualty, life and health, employee benefits, investment and risk management products and services. With more than 11,000 employees in offices located throughout North America, Hub’s vast network of specialists provides peace of mind on what matters most by protecting clients through unrelenting advocacy and tailored insurance solutions. For more information, please visit www.hubinternational.com.

No Underinsured Coverage For Ontario Truck Driver

Article by Brian Sunohara

In Kahlon v. ACE INA Insurance, 2019 ONCA 774, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that a commercial truck driver was not entitled to underinsured coverage from either his personal automobile insurer or a fleet insurer.

Overview

Kahlon was involved in a serious accident in Florida. He had been operating a truck. He stepped out of the truck to see what was causing a traffic delay and was struck by another vehicle. The at-fault driver only had $20,000 in liability insurance.

Kahlon was insured under a personal automobile policy in Ontario with Allstate. The company for which Kahlon was operating the truck had fleet insurance in Ontario with ACE INA.

On a motion, Justice Whitten determined that Allstate was obliged to respond for underinsured coverage and that ACE INA was not required to respond. The Court of Appeal held that neither Allstate, nor ACE INA, was responsible for underinsured coverage.

Purpose of Underinsured Coverage

The purpose of underinsured coverage is to protect an insured who may be involved in an accident with a driver who has low liability insurance limits. The insured’s own insurer must make up the shortfall in damages, up to the insured’s policy limits.

Although underinsured coverage is optional, most personal automobile policies in Ontario have such coverage.

However, expert evidence showed that commercial fleet insurers in Ontario have not offered underinsured coverage in respect of heavy commercial vehicles for around 15 years. They stopped doing so because of the increased risk posed by truck fleets travelling into the United States. Many drivers in the United States have very low liability insurance limits.

OPCF 44R Endorsement

In Ontario, the OPCF 44R endorsement governs underinsured coverage.

Section 22 of the OPCF 44R endorsement states: “Except as otherwise provided in this change form, all limits, terms, conditions, provisions, definitions and exclusions of the policy shall have full force and effect”.

Therefore, the conditions in the Ontario Automobile Policy (OAP 1) are applicable to underinsured coverage.

Section 2.2.3 of the OAP 1 provides that, if an insured is driving a vehicle not described on the policy, that vehicle must not have a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 4,500 kilograms.

In other words, the OAP 1 excludes coverage for heavy commercial vehicles.

Court of Appeal’s Decision

Since Kahlon was operating a heavy commercial vehicle, the Court of Appeal said that he was not entitled to underinsured coverage from Allstate.

Further, underinsured coverage was not available under ACE INA’s fleet policy because that policy contained an endorsement which restricted such coverage.

Specifically, the endorsement provided that underinsured coverage was only available when the driver was operating a private passenger vehicle or light commercial vehicle, not a heavy commercial vehicle.

The endorsement was held to be applicable even though it was not in an approved form.

Conclusion

No underinsured coverage whatsoever was available to the plaintiff. Since the plaintiff sustained serious injuries, there will likely be a shortfall in his recovery of damages, unless the at-fault driver has sufficient assets to personally satisfy a judgment.

The Court of Appeal found this to be an unfortunate, but necessary, result, noting that “this outcome follows from the decision of the provincial government many years ago not to make underinsurance coverage mandatory”.

The Court of Appeal concluded: “courts have no authority to simply override contractual language in order to force the provision of coverage where none is contemplated by the existing language of the insurance policy and the endorsement, just because they might consider it good public policy to do so. This is the business of the provincial government, not the courts”.

Rogers Partners LLP is an experienced civil litigation firm in Toronto, Ontario. The firm represents insurers and self-insured companies in numerous areas, including motor vehicle negligence, occupiers’ liability, product liability, professional negligence, construction claims, statutory accident benefits, disability benefits, municipal liability, medical negligence, sexual abuse, and insurance coverage disputes.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

Canada is home to two of the world’s most overvalued real estate markets

Toronto is the second-most overvalued real estate market in the world, according to a UBS report.

The Global Real Estate Bubble Index found only Munich is deeper into bubble territory.

“Price bubbles are a regularly recurring phenomenon in property markets. The term ‘bubble’ refers to a substantial and sustained mispricing of an asset, the existence of which cannot be proven unless it bursts,” said the report.

“The UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index gauges the risk of a property bubble on the basis of such patterns.”

Experts say Toronto’s plight is due to factors like a lack of supply and foreign money. But measures to tackle the issues it faces have largely been unsuccessful in countering rising prices.

“Real housing prices in the city almost tripled between 2000 and 2017.”

“As in Vancouver, local authorities introduced a foreign buyers’ tax, rent controls and tighter mortgage standards to tackle worsening affordability.”

Vancouver is lower down the list in seventh place, but is still considered a bubble risk.

“In just a couple of quarters, year-on-year price growth rates have reversed from 10 per cent to minus seven per cent,” said the report.

“Sky-high valuations and overstretched affordability have made the market vulnerable to even minor demand shifts.”

Despite the cooldown, Vancouver is still home to Canada’s highest-priced real estate with the average home costing as much as $993,300.

Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Zurich, London and San Francisco round out the top 10.

UBS said we could be at the end of the global boom in high-priced real estate markets.

“Price growth rates have continued to slow in a majority of cities,” said the report.

“Average price growth has come to a standstill for the first time since 2012.”

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. 

“The best advice I can give on getting the best rate is, be a safe driver,” said Pete Karageorgos, head of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Read more

Women’s hockey in Canada receives a multimillion-dollar boost

Hockey Canada is trying to fill the gap left by the collapse of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and it’s getting a multimillion-dollar boost from BFL Canada, a Montreal-based insurance company.

The company, which is a longtime supporter of women’s hockey, announced Tuesday it will become the title sponsor of training, evaluation and selection camps for the Canadian national women’s team, the national development team and the women’s under-18 team.

BFL president Barry Lorenzetti, a former chairman of the Hockey Canada Foundation, said his company was making a five-year commitment to programs that range from elite athlete and coaching development to grassroots programs.

“We’ve added series of mini-camps in Montreal and Toronto so that our national team players have an opportunity to play,” said Gina Kingsbury, a two-time Olympic gold medallist  who is the director of the women’s team for Hockey Canada. “I think by adding more camps we’re going to minimize the effect of not having our players competing every week. I do think it’s an opportunity to embed our vision and build chemistry on and off the ice You always have to look at this in a positive light, (but) we’d much rather have our athletes plying in a league.”

Most of the top Canadian players competed in the CWHL, which folded in the spring. Many players are hoping NHL clubs will jump in with significant financial help, but that assistance hasn’t been forthcoming. Top players like Marie-Philip Poulin, Lauriane Rougeau and Mélodie Daoust have joined the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, which has organized a series of Dream Gap showcases.

From left, Caroline Ouellette, assistant women’s hockey coach at Concordia University and Women’s Hockey Canada, Danièle Sauvageau, Team Canada alumna and general manager of the Université de Montréal women’s hockey team, Barry Lorenzetti, president and CEO of BFL Canada, and Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, announce partnership between BFL Canada and Hockey Canada. JOHN MAHONEY / MONTREAL GAZETTE

“We had a very good response last weekend in Toronto and we have events coming up in New Hampshire and Chicago,” said Daoust. “We hope to have one this winter here in Montreal.”

Unifor, the largest private sector union in Canada, is a title sponsor of the tour, while the NHLPA, Budweiser and Tim Hortons have also provided support.

BFL Canada has also established the female coaches of the year awards, which will honour elite and grassroots coaches from each province and territory as well as national winners. The company will also serve as the title sponsors for the IIHF World Girls’ Hockey Weekend, Oct. 4-6, as well as the IIHF Girls Game in February. BFL will also be a partner in the women’s world championships, which will be played in Halifax and Truro, N.S., in April.

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