A B.C. Judge found that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is still on the hook for storage costs of vehicles written off by the acid spills in Trail in 2018.
ICBC applied to have more than 500 written off vehicles destroyed in order to ease the growing burden of expensive storage fees.
The 518 vehicles have been stored in Salmo since they were written after two acid spills in Trail in April and May of 2018.
The price for storing the vehicles has already cost ICBC more than $1.6M and is increasing by over $1,800 per day and more than $54,000 every month.
The defendants, Teck Metals Ltd., IRM (International Raw Materials Ltd.) and Westcan Bulk Transport Ltd., are accused of causing the damage to the vehicles after spilling hundreds of litres of acid along Hwy 3B in at least two different incidents.
Despite having more than two years to inspect the vehicles, the defendants argue that “there were inconsistencies in the manner in which the 519 vehicles were determined to be write-offs, and flaws in ICBC’s vehicle examination process.”
The defendants allege that ICBC’s vehicle assessment procedures were flawed, implicating that over 200 vehicles initially written off based on examinations conducted by ICBC adjusters were later found to have no trace of sulphuric acid in tests conducted by 30 Forensic, an independent multi-disciplinary forensics firm, and were deemed ‘false-positive’.
“Because the defendants have not yet had a reasonably informed opportunity to examine the 518 vehicles which are the subject of this ruling, I conclude that, at least at this point in the litigation, preservation of these vehicles is necessary for the defendants to obtain “full information or evidence” in connection with the live issues of causation and damages,” read the ruling of Justice Paul Riley.
The Judge ordered ICBC to continue to pay the storage costs until March 31, 2021 to enable the defendants to further review each case and examine the vehicles.
After March 31, the defendants have to agree to allow the vehicles to be destroyed or pay for their storage.
The Justice said ICBC could further recoup losses by claiming the expenses as damages in its pending case against the defendants.