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Sandra Katalinic – ICBC Defence Lawyer

Sandra KatSandra Katalinicalinic is a lawyer with Eyeford Macauley Shaw & Padmanabhan LLP (“EMSP”).  She’s practiced since 1996, largely as an ICBC defence lawyer.  She spent many years at another ICBC defence firm: Quinlan Abrioux.   From 2011 to 2016, ICBC paid EMSP (including under its previous firm name) $5,892,932.  In the same period, ICBC paid Quinlan Abrioux $41,917,332.

Ms. Katalinic is considered a highly-experienced ICBC defence lawyer.

When ICBC defends a case, the appointed defence lawyer has two clients: ICBC as the insurer for the defendant driver, and the defendant driver him or herself.  The lawyer has a duty to each.  ICBC has a duty to the defendant (their insured) to put ICBC’s interests second.  That is, if ICBC’s interests conflict with their insured’s interests, ICBC MUST put their insured’s interests first.  When in doubt, the customer wins.

The ICBC defence lawyer thus must also put the personal defendant’s interests ahead of ICBC’s.

In most cases, the personal defendant is treated by both ICBC and the defence lawyer as almost irrelevant.  The lawyer takes instructions from the ICBC Adjustor.  The lawyer denies liability even when the defendant admits the crash was all his fault.  The lawyer denies the plaintiff was hurt even when the defendant says she saw the plaintiff bleeding and unconscious at the scene.  All good fun, and all good ways to add a million dollars here, a million dollars there, to the defence law firm’s billings.  As long as the defence lawyer is gambling with ICBC’s money, the defendant doesn’t have a lot to complain about.

What is not OK is when the ICBC defence lawyer throws the defendant under the bus.

Such a case occurred in  Kirilenko v. Bowie et al. 2017 BCSC 2047.  There, the plaintiff sued for serious injuries caused while he was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by the defendant.  Mr. Kirilenko’s injuries included: a brain injury, multiple rib fractures, liver laceration, a skull fracture, and lacerations to his lung.

Ms. Katalinic decided not to call the defendant driver as a witness at trial.  Thus the only witness as to what happened in the pickup truck, was the plaintiff.  Part way through trial, Ms. Katalinic tried to call a police officer as a surprise witness.  She said the officer would testify that at the time of the crash, both the plaintiff and the defendant were suspected of trafficking cocaine.  It that were true, the plaintiff would get nothing for his injuries, on the legal principle that one can’t collect damages if injured while committing a crime.  Problem was: if accepted, this would expose Ms. Katalinic’s own client (the defendant) to legal jeopardy.  If nothing else, it would be a terrible thing to have on one’s record.

The judge would have none of it.  He said:

[12]         This is not just an evidentiary issue. It is an ethical one as well.

He summed up thus:

[14]        To put the matter more simply, in attempting to advance evidence possibly detrimental to the interests of Ms. Bowie, defence counsel would appear to be potentially in a conflict, acting in favour of one client to the detriment of another. I asked counsel directly whether they had instructions from Ms. Bowie that would permit them to tender evidence implicating her in criminal activity. I did not get a straight answer. The existence of any such conflict would have to be ruled out or resolved before this evidence could be admitted, or before Cst. Tumbas could be called.

Ms. Katalinic tried to accuse her own client of being a drug dealer, as a tactic to defeat the plaintiff’s claim for terrible injuries.  She did this while she owed a legal and ethical duty to her client the personal defendant.  Presumably she did so on instructions from ICBC — which also owed a duty to the personal defendant — to protect the personal defendant even at the expense of ICBC.

Next time you read any propaganda from ICBC about why it’s losing money, ask yourself if it might, just might, have to do with a corporate culture of nastiness.  A culture that allows defence counsel to throw their personal clients under the bus, while collecting millions in ICBC legal fees.