Lindal v. Lindal (1981), 39 N.R. 361 (SCC)

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Lindal v. Lindal

Indexed As: Lindal v. Lindal

Supreme Court of Canada

Martland, Ritchie, Dickson, Estey and McIntyre, JJ.

December 17, 1981.


The plaintiff brought an action in negligence against his brother for damages resulting from injuries in a motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff suffered severe brain damage with resulting physical and mental disability. The British Columbia Supreme Court in a judgment reported [1978] 4 W.W.R. 592 allowed the plaintiff’s action and as part of the damage award awarded $135,000.00 general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenities of life. The British Columbia Court of Appeal allowed the defendant’s appeal and reduced the general damage award for pain, suffering and loss of amenities of life to $100,000.00 in conformity with the Supreme Court of Canada trilogy of cases of nonpecuniary damages. The plaintiff appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal and affirmed the $100,000.00 limit on general damages on nonpecuniary damages.

Damage Awards – Topic 102

Personal injuries and death – Head injuries – Brain damage – The plaintiff man suffered extensive damage to his brain and brain stem with resulting severe physical and mental disability – The Supreme Court of Canada limited the plaintiff’s damages for nonpecuniary damage to $100,000.00.

Damages – Topic 1543

General damages for personal injuries – Pain, suffering, loss of amenities of life and other nonpecuniary damages – The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the $100,000.00 limit for general damages for nonpecuniary damage – The court discussed and explained the functional approach to the assessment of such an award and stated that its purpose is not to compensate for loss of amenities, but rather to provide a substitute for those amenities – The court stated that such an award does not depend upon the gravity of the injury – The court noted that inflation would be a factor in considering whether to exceed the $100,000.00 limit (see paragraph 26).

Evidence – Topic 2277

Special modes of proof – Judicial notice – Money and value of money – Inflation – The Supreme Court of Canada held that a court may take judicial notice of inflation, but not the precise monthly or yearly inflation rate – See paragraph 26.

Cases Noticed:

Andrews v. Grand & Toy Alberta Ltd., [1978] 2 S.C.R. 229, 19 N.R. 50; 8 A.R. 182; [1978] 1 W.W.R. 557; 83 D.L.R.(3d) 452, appld. [para. 2].

Teno v. Arnold, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 287; 19 N.R. 1; 83 D.L.R.(3d) 609, appld. [para. 2].

Thornton v. Board of School Trustees of School District No. 57 (Prince George), [1978] 2 S.C.R. 267; 19 N.R. 552; [1978] 1 W.W.R. 607; 83 D.L.R.(3d) 480, appld. [para. 2].

Lewis v. Todd (1981), 34 N.R. 1; 115 D.L.R.(3d) 257, appld. [para. 2].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Cooper-Stephenson and Saunders, Personal Injury Damages in Canada (1981), p. 373 [para. 17].

Kahn-Freund, Expectation of Happiness (1941), 5 Mod. L. Rev. 81, [para. 15].

McLachlin, Beverly M., What Price Disability? A Perspective on the Law of Damages for Personal Injury (1981), 59 Can. Bar Rev. 1 [para. 19].

Royal Commission on Civil Liability and Compensation for Personal Injury (Pearson Commission), [1978] C.M.N.D. 7054-I [para. 20].


B.A. Crane, Q.C., and R. Stanton, for the appellant;

R.B. Harvey, for the respondent.

This case was heard on June 24, 1981, at Ottawa, Ontario, before MARTLAND, RITCHIE, DICKSON, ESTEY and McINTYRE, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On December 17, 1981, DICKSON, J., delivered the following judgment for the Supreme Court of Canada:


Lindal v. Lindal

(1981), 39 N.R. 361 (SCC)

Supreme Court of Canada
Reading Time:
16 minutes
Dickson, Estey, Martland, McIntyre, Ritchie 

: This is another tragic personal injury case. Liability is no longer in issue. The only question on appeal is whether the Court of Appeal of British Columbia erred in reducing from $135,000 to $100,000 the award for pain and suffering and loss of amenities of life.

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