Costco awarded costs of $120,000 in ‘moderately complex’ wrongful dismissal lawsuit

A shot of the meat department inside a Costco store. Photo: Tyler Menezes/Unsplash

Costco has been awarded legal costs of $120,000 in a wrongful dismissal case it won against a worker who twice deleted a company website.

Costco sought costs on a partial indemnity basis of $135,814.08 all inclusive. The worker said that amount was excessive and countered that an appropriate amount would be “no more than $75,000.”

Eight-day trial

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice noted that it was an eight-day trial and that it started with the principle that costs “should reflect more what the court views as a fair and reasonable amount that should be paid by the unsuccessful parties rather than any exact measure of the actual costs to the successful litigant.”

The incurring of costs and time spent by counsel is essentially a judgement exercise, it said.

The court noted that the worker in this case did not provide a bill of costs. “Such disclosure would have been helpful, given that (the worker’s) main complaint is that the total time spent by counsel for Costco was excessive.”

Number of hours spent

The worker noted that, for Costco, two counsel spent a total of 102 hours preparing for the trial, yet the actual time spent in trial was less than 70 hours. Further, the worker said counsel spent a total of 144 hours “at trial” — more than double the actual hours the trial took to complete.

“Again, however, I have no information as to the costs incurred by (the worker) in addressing the same issues,” it said.

“Also, (he) has failed to account for the fact that counsel’s total time at trial included research and preparing written closing submissions. The written submissions were necessary because there was insufficient time scheduled for oral submissions. Both parties’ written submissions were of great assistance to the court.”

Number of lawyers, students involved ‘appears excessive’: Court

The worker also argued the rates charged by Costco’s counsel were excessive, particular one lawyer he alleged was called to the bar “last year.” But that lawyer was called in 2015, the court said, and found the rates charged by individual counsel to be “reasonable based on their experience.”

Having said that, though, the court agreed with him that the number of lawyers and students involved in the matter “appears to be excessive.”

It called the case “moderately complex and important to both parties.” But, Costco was entirely successful and costs were awarded on a partial indemnity basis in the amount of $120,000, inclusive of disbursements and HST.

For more information, see Park v. Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd., 2023 ONSC 1885 (CanLII).


About HR Law Canada 383 Articles
HR Law Canada posts are written by the team at North Wall Media, publishers of this media brand.