Court awards plaintiff $26,267 for medical cannabis following auto accident

A BC court recently sided with a plaintiff who was seeking damages from a car accident, including a payment of $26,267 for medical cannabis.

The payment, part of a larger settlement of over $1.1 million, is intended to cover the plaintiff’s use of medical cannabis oil at a rate of $1,095 a year, annually, up to the age of 75. The plaintiff was 42 at the time of this year’s trial. 

The defendants in the case had challenged several of the plaintiff’s expenses, including the medical cannabis, saying she could have used a different prescription drug, Cymbalta. The plaintiff argued that Cymbalta was more expensive and would be less effective than medical cannabis. This testimony was supported by two medical experts, as well. 

The judge in the case noted that “even if Cymbalta and medical cannabis were of equal cost (and I find on the evidence that they are not) and it was a matter of choosing one of the two drugs to spend her funds on, I would consider it reasonable for her to choose medical cannabis in the circumstances. Having limited funds, she would be choosing between a drug she knew was of some assistance (medical cannabis) and a drug that was unlikely to assist (Cymbalta) given her past response to similar medications. That is a sensible investment.”

The judge continued in her ruling: 

“The defendants take issue with the plaintiff’s use of medical cannabis. She uses it at the recommendation of a dedicated Pain Clinic pharmacist and as prescribed by Dr. Gordon and a Quebec physician. Dr. Du Plessis testified that it assists with anxiety and insomnia and can be effective for pain, although not typically recommended for myofascial pain. While Dr. Squire recommends Cymbalta in preference, but expressly supports the continued use of medical cannabis if Cymbalta does not help. The plaintiff has testified that medical cannabis does, in fact, help with her pain, her ability to sleep and her anxiety.  

“There appears to be only very modest medical hope regarding Cymbalta. Should the Cymbalta trial go well against the odds, the plaintiff will presumably continue to use it. Should Cymbalta not assist, she will definitely continue with medical cannabis.

“Given the relative cost of Cymbalta and medical cannabis, I consider it appropriate to award the plaintiff damages based on the recommended dosage of THC/CBD oil ($1095 annually to age 75), without any deduction for contingencies. The plaintiff is awarded $26,267. “

The case in question centred around an auto accident on May 29, 2015 in Surrey, BC. The defendants had previously admitted their liability in the accident and conceded that the plaintiff, Melanie Lavoie, was injured in the accident. However, they disputed the nature and severity of her injuries, the extent to which they continue to impact her, and the appropriate damages.

They sought to challenge several aspects of her claims in regard to injury and the difficulty it caused her in being able to work, or even enjoy a quality of life. Lavoie and her husband were even forced to move back to Quebec from BC following the accident as they were no longer able to afford to live in BC. 

In total, the plaintiff was awarded $1,143,635 that included accounting for past and future loss earning capacity, loss of future domestic capacity, and cost of future care.


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