B.C. lawyer 'lied, exaggerated' injuries to make $2.8 million accident claim: judge | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. lawyer 'lied, exaggerated' injuries to make $2.8 million accident claim: judge

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April 29, 2021 - 7:00 AM

A former B.C. lawyer who sought $2.8 million in damages from five car accidents in less than five years, was soundly criticized by a B.C. Supreme Court Justice for lies and exaggerations before awarding him just a fraction of his damages.

Trials involving accidents are normally a straightforward probe of several different heads of damages claimed by plaintiffs. They often involve expert medical witnesses as well as evidence from claimants about injuries suffered in car accidents.

In this case, Justice Christopher Giaschi found so many lies and fabrications, he tossed out $2.4 million in claimed damages, largely because Vazguen Baltadjian grossly overstated past wage loss and future earning capacity.

"I am of the view that the plaintiff has exaggerated, sometimes to a gross extent, the nature and effects of his injuries and disabilities and has done so not only before me but also to his various medical doctors and others. Moreover, there were numerous instances where the plaintiff admitted to either telling outright lies or giving otherwise misleading information,” Giaschi wrote in his April 23 decision.

Then he explained those exaggerations and lies over several hundred paragraphs including his marks in law school before any accident, his failed history in business, his claims of headaches and other ailments as well as his lack of success practicing law in B.C.

Baltadjian went to law school in Quebec before he tried to transfer his licence to B.C. but that requires taking new tests. Just as he was about to start studying for the tests, between Aug. 21, 2009 and April 10,  2010, he was involved in four minor car accidents. He wasn’t responsible for any of the accidents. A fifth, more serious accident occurred in 2014 but was not a major factor in the case.

Baltadjian blamed his delays in studying and eventually passing exams on the car accidents, claiming largely headaches held him back.

But Giaschi said he could rely on very little of what the lawyer said and instead had to rely on medical records and reports he made to various doctors over the years and found significant disparities, including lies and fabrications to the doctors themselves.

"He told (one of the doctors) that he did extremely well in law school, had a photographic memory and described himself as 'a Superman', all of which were exaggerations,” Giaschi wrote.

He also found Baltadjian was practicing law without a licence and lied to the Law Society of B.C. about his injuries and his income.

Baltadjian tried to claim his injuries were responsible for his lack of progress as a lawyer and calculated his future earnings damages as a percentage of what a successful lawyer would have made, but Giaschi found his prospects were much lower than most lawyers or even people who have earned law degrees.

“The likelihood the plaintiff would have been successful as either a tax lawyer or a general lawyer on his own is even lower. The plaintiff had no contacts in British Columbia other than (one business venture), had minimal experience as a lawyer and had a history of failed businesses.”

Giaschi found that even his past income losses were inflated because he was only capable of working 10 hours a week — not because of intermittent headaches but because he couldn’t find any other clients.

Giaschi also tossed out most of the evidence of his wife.

"She obviously has a significant interest in the outcome of these proceedings. She gave evidence about things that she could not have known. For example, she purported to describe a dramatic change in the personality of the plaintiff when she had not known him long enough to be able to give such evidence. I also find that she likewise had a tendency to exaggerate the nature and effects of the plaintiff’s injuries and his alleged disabilities,” Giaschi wrote.

He awarded Baltadjian just over $400,000 in damages, which is not unusual in accident cases.

Baltadjian is no longer listed as a lawyer with the B.C. Law Society. You can read the decision here. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones or call 250-718-2724 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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