Loss of Housekeeping 2019

Two recent decisions yield two different approaches by the Courts as it pertains to loss of housekeeping capacity.

In the first example, the Court rejected the claim for  loss of housekeeping as a separate head of damage and addressed this loss under the non-pecuniary award.

In the second example, the Court was satisfied that a separate category for loss of housekeeping capacity was appropriate, and awarded $15,000 under this category primarily because it was demonstrated that the Plaintiff did suffer a loss of capacity to perform these household tasks and was now reliant on others to perform them.

The First Case:

Citation – Dhadda v. Bradley, 2019 BCSC 1840 (CanLii)

[92]         Ms. Dhadda claims an award of approximately $100,000 for loss of housekeeping capacity.  The claim is based on the evidence of Ms. Dhadda and her mother that Ms. Dhadda used to do as much as eight hours of housework and cooking around the house every week and now does very little.  Her mother testified that the time Ms. Dhadda puts in now is unproductive.  Ms. Dhadda claims an award on the theory that she should receive compensation for housekeeping services at $20 an hour for four hours a week.  Her calculation anticipates a future need for housekeeping services over the next 30 years.

[93]         Ms. Dhadda is not physically incapable of doing housework and cooking.  When she moves into an apartment of her own – she wants to do this as soon as she can, and the evidence is that it will be good for her psychological health – I am confident that she will cook and clean for herself as necessary, even though it will cause her discomfort.  I do not think it is at all likely that she will hire a housekeeper.

[94]         In my view, this is a case in which it is more appropriate that Ms. Dhadda’s present and future difficulties with housework be addressed through an award of non-pecuniary damages than by a separate award for loss of housekeeping capacity:  Anssari v. Alborzpour, 2019 BCSC 512 at paras. 149-150.

[95]         Accordingly, I reject the claim for an award for loss of housekeeping capacity.

The Second Case:

Citation – Abraha v. Suri, 2019 BCSC 1855 (CanLii)

[68]         The principles applicable to the loss of homemaking capacity are:

·       Loss of housekeeping capacity may be treated as a pecuniary or non-pecuniary award. This is a question of discretion for the trial judge.

·       A plaintiff who has suffered an injury that would make a reasonable person in her circumstances unable to perform usual and necessary household work is entitled to compensation for that loss by way of pecuniary damages.

·       Where the loss is more in keeping with a loss of amenities or increased pain and suffering while performing household work, the loss may instead be compensated by a non-pecuniary damages award.

·       As the award is intended to reflect the loss of a capacity, the plaintiff is entitled to compensation whether or not replacement services are actually purchased.

·       Evidence of the loss of homemaking capacity is provided by the work being performed by others, even if done gratuitously.

See: McTavish v. MacGillivray, 2000 BCCA 164 at para. 63; and Kim v. Lin, 2018 BCCA 77 [Lin] at paras. 28–34.

The Parties’ Positions on Loss of Homemaking Capacity

[69]         Ms. Abraha submits that she was very involved in cooking and cleaning prior to the Accident.  She was unable to do these tasks immediately following the Accident and, although she has subsequently resumed these tasks to a limited degree, she relies on other members of her household to complete these tasks.  She seeks $15,000 under this head of damages.

[70]         The defendants point out that there are four other adults in Ms. Abraha’s home and they are expected to share in the maintenance of the household.  They also submit that Ms. Abraha’s enjoyment of cooking and cleaning is more properly considered as a loss of enjoyment of life under the non-pecuniary head of damage.

Factual Findings and Analysis on Loss of Homemaking Capacity

[71]         I agree with Ms. Abraha’s submission that she has a dramatically diminished capacity to cook and take care of her home.  Before the Accident, she was the primary homemaker; now she is no longer able to stand and cook or clean for more than 30 minutes.  The tasks she is able to complete are harder to do and she is unable to clean her home to the standard she expects.  Prior to the Accident, she took pride in taking care of her home and her family relied on her to do this work.  Since the Accident, her family members have been doing more of the cooking and housework.

[72]         I disagree with the defendants’ suggestion that Ms. Abraha’s loss of homemaking capacity would be better considered as a non-pecuniary loss. As I have outlined, she has lost the capacity to perform these tasks and is now reliant on others to perform them.  This fits squarely within the circumstances outlined by the Court in Lin as warranting consideration under their own category of pecuniary loss.

[73]         In my view, it is appropriate in the circumstances of this case to award Ms. Abraha $15,000 for her loss of homemaking capacity.

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