Mussio Goodman Successful at Varying Will at Trial

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Mussio Goodman’s latest case Webber v. Sullivan, 2019 BCSC 1522 involved a deceased mother who disinherited her two daughters in favor of her two sons.

The will left the entire estate to one of the sons, the other having been provided for with a substantial gift before the mother passed away. The estate was valued at $434,000.

The case dealt with lengthy and difficult family history, with a number of complicating dynamics including allegations of child abuse. The defendant sons denied that our clients were entitled to anything from the estate. The defendants made allegations of estrangement and relied on the deceased’s will that indicated our clients were “uninvolved”.

At trial we argued that the will did not make adequate provision to our two disinherited clients. Evidence of continued contact with deceased through phone calls and visits was adduced. It was argued that the deceased had not met her moral obligation to provide something for our clients, and there was no credible evidence to suggest that our clients had done anything that would justify the deceased cutting them completely out of the will.

Madam Justice Horsman agreed, writing:

[172] Tataryn instructs that, if the size of the estate permits and there are no circumstances negating an obligation, a testator should make some provision for adult children in a will. In the present case, the size of Betty’s estate does permit some provision for the plaintiffs, and I conclude that there are no circumstances which would negate Betty’s moral obligation to the plaintiffs. In particular, the evidence does not establish any wrongful conduct on the part of the plaintiffs, or an estrangement with Betty that would justify their complete disinheritance.

As a result the will was varied 15% to provide for our clients. This case highlights that even where there is a difficult relationship between child and parent, there are moral obligations on a will-maker to provide for his or her children in the will. If you have been disinherited unfairly by your parent contact Mussio Goodman to seek your portion of the estate.

Wes Mussio is Featured in Canadian Lawyer Magazine

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Mussio Goodman lawyer featured in national magazine publication, Canadian Lawyer Magazine

With the introduction of a restrictive no-fault system by ICBC for accidents on or after April 1, 2019, if ICBC has their way and categorizes most claims as “minor injuries”, ICBC will be able to avoid paying much of any compensation to injured victims involved in car crashes.

The level of compensation available to victims will impede the ability of victims to retain a lawyer to help him/her deal with ICBC and the Civil Resolution Tribunal. Judging from public statements by David Eby, the Attorney General, one of the purposes of the NDP’s legislative changes is to reduce lawyer involvement in ICBC files which, in turn, means reducing access to justice for victims of car crashes.

The of clear consequences of these changes is a lot less legal work which will almost certainly create extensive layoffs across the industry, whether it be lawyers, paralegals, legal assistants, receptionists, clerks, etc. This article discusses the impact of ICBC’s new no-fault system on the legal community.

You can read the article here: Insurance Cap Article

Mussio Goodman will be filing a Lawsuit on behalf of Commercial Drive Businesses to Ensure Fortis BC Fairly Compensates the Businesses for Severe Disruption of Business

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Many owners and renters of businesses along Commercial Drives sustained severe loss of revenues when FortisBC closed 1st Avenue for months in order to place a new 30 inch gas line under 1st Avenue. Businesses collectively approached Fortis BC asking for fair compensation for the severe negative intrusion into their businesses to which Fortis BC denied any compensation whatsoever.

In other words, Fortis BC send the strong message that it is okay to severely compromise other businesses so that Fortis BC can enjoy development and presumably profits from the development. To quote a recent Fortis BC representative, “we don’t generally compensate anyone for our actions despite the impact…”. The end result is that the Commercial Drive businesses have been forced to take legal action as Fortis BC has made it is clear that in order to improve profitability of their pipelines, they are not prepared to compensate anyone despite severely impacted businesses.

Client, Federico Fuoco, spoke to Global News and CTV about his business, Federico’s Supper Club, being negatively impacted by FortisBC.

“A lot of these businesses are small businesses. They can’t afford any loss, let alone 20 to 50 per cent,” Fuoco said to CTV.

Mr. Fuoco also stated to Global News that “They kept saying to us that they would do it and it was just a matter of time, and then for them to renege like that and tell us to lawyer up was quite a surprise actually, quite a shock”.

Thankfully, Mr. Fuoco and business owners in his position have hired Wes Mussio of Mussio Goodman, who will ensure they get their fair compensation for their loss of revenue.

Read and watch Federico Fuoco’s Interview with Global News: Commercial Drive businesses set to launch court action against FortisBC over 1st Ave. closure

Read Federico Fuoco’s Interview with CTV: Gas line replacement leads to traffic disruptions in Coquitlam

 

Mussio Goodman Breaks New Legal Ground With Latest Court Decision

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Mussio Goodman is pleased to announce our success with the judgment of Terezakis v. Ekins, 2018 BCSC 249. This application involved the plaintiff applying for leave under s.151 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, SBC 2009 c. 13. to secure standing to bring an action on behalf of the Estate of Aikaterini Terezakis, the deceased.

This decision is the first successful case in British Columbia where a beneficiary or intestate successor has been granted leave, based on necessity alone, to bring an action on behalf of an estate to sue for a resulting trust over a property that was transfered by the deceased before death.

Mussio Goodman successfully argued in Terezakis that the plaintiff had fulfilled the requisite criterion to obtain standing. The criterion being:

  1. the beneficiary made reasonable efforts to cause the personal representative to commence or defend the proceeding;
  2. the beneficiary gave notice of the application to the personal representatives and any other beneficiaries;
  3. the beneficiary is acting in good faith; and
  4. it is necessary or expedient for the protection of the estate or the interest of the beneficiary or intestate successor for the proceeding to be brought or defended.

The Honorable Madam Justice Morellato opined at paragraph 31 in Terezakis that the court can grant leave under s. 151 on the criterion of necessity alone:

“[31]        Ms. Ekins is in a difficult position.  She is the executor of the Estate, a beneficiary under the Will and also the owner in fee simple of the Richmond Property which Mr. T. Terezakis claims she holds in trust for the Estate, an allegation which Ms. Ekins vigorously disputes.  Ms. Ekins deposed in her affidavit sworn January 31, 2017 that, “in her capacity as Executor” of the Estate, she intend to take a neutral position” in the Action.  By taking a “neutral position”, Ms. Ekins is clearly unwilling to prosecute the claims articulated by Mr. T. Terezakis, on behalf of the Estate,  since a key issue in this suit would challenge her ownership interest in the Richmond Property.  Further, because of her asserted interest in the Richmond Property, she is in a conflict of interest, making her effectively “unable to proceed” on behalf of the estate.  In this light, given that I have found the other pre-conditions of s. 151 have been satisfied, I conclude that I may exercise my discretion to grant leave under s. 151 on the criterion of “necessity” alone.”

This precedent setting judgment shows that obtaining legal counsel with experience, knowledge, and expertise in estate litigation can get you results previously unheard of. At Mussio Goodman, we provide our Wills and Estates clients with the requisite experience, knowledge, and expertise.

News 1130 Interviews Eric Goodman on Why Injury Caps Punish Victims Instead of Bad Drivers

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From the article:

One of the key things the province is tasking ICBC to do is to, clearly and legally, redefine what a minor injury is. We know it will include things like: sprains, strains, mild whiplash, cuts, bruises, stress and anxiety from a crash but not broken bones, brain injuries or concussions.

Vancouver lawyer Eric Goodman wonders if it’s fair that someone with a minor injury doesn’t get enough money to handle a lifetime of pain. “What they’re trying to do is just use a blanket term: ‘minor injury’, and apply it to everybody no matter what the personal circumstances and that’s just not the way it works.”

He also feels having the insurance company define the word moving forward is a little biased.

“Claims that they initially determined to be minor and for which they put aside a certain amount of money to pay-off eventually turned out to be very complex. So, that in it of itself is proof that you can’t just, right after an accident say, ‘this is a minor claim, here’s a few thousand dollars, be on your way.’ These types of injuries can be insidious and it takes time to determine how it effects that individual person.”

Victoria is also looking to cap the payout for minor injuries claims at $5,500 and Goodman thinks this may backfire. “What it has shown us that in Alberta and Ontario, putting caps on injury claims do not work. In Ontario, the premiums are higher than in BC and the courts are bogged down in fighting.”

Fighting because, he adds, minor claims will be handed off to a group of independent adjudicators and Goodman expects lengthy delays as people attempt to fight for their rights.

Goodman suggests the government look elsewhere to fix the problems at ICBC.

“The fact is ICBC was wildly profitable up until just a few short years ago before the Liberals took the profits out of their coffers and before ICBC started to get very litigious in the way they handled claims. If they had just compensated claimants fairly early, we wouldn’t be in this mess. This won’t alleviate the burdens on the legal system, in fact, it may just exacerbate the problem.”

Press Release: Mussio Goodman Expands to Vancouver Island

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Mussio Goodman Opens a New Office Location in Nanaimo

Mussio Goodman Injury and Estate Lawyers, with offices in Downtown Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna and Vernon, is now proud to announce its expansion to Vancouver Island.

With a full service office located in Nanaimo at #203 – 335 Wesley St., Mussio Goodman can now offer its premier legal services and record of success to injured clients across Vancouver Island.

Managing Partner Wes Mussio, who has been practicing exclusively in personal injury for over 25 years, and who recently purchased the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL, stated “since my other business and personal interests have expanded to the island, it only seemed fitting that we open a law office in Nanaimo as well.”

Wes’ partner, Eric Goodman notes that “while our existing infrastructure of 12 lawyers and students, as well as 22 staff across four offices, already allowed us to represent clients all over the province, having a location in Nanaimo gives us a stronger ability to connect with the local community and our clients.”

Wes adds: “I especially look forward to spending more time on the island and serving its residents who have suffered injuries through no fault of their own.”

For more information or a free consultation, please call 250 824 5027 or toll free at 1 855 MUSSIO1, or visit us at mussiogoodman.com.