Live In Caregiver Awarded Wages of Half What Outside Service Would Charge

Foreman v. Reid2010 BCSC 228

The case is largely reported as one of undue influence and testamentary capacity, but the defendant counter claimed for an award of damages based on unjust enrichment, for a reasonable fee for the care giving services provided for over 5 years.

The court in effect awarded over $200,000 for these services, based on approximately one half of what a full time paid caregiver would charge.

The court noted that after his dismissal the deceased had to pay $8000 per month for her care prior to her death.

B. The defendant’s counterclaim for unjust enrichment

[89] Mr. Reid seeks compensation on the basis of quantum meruit, for unpaid services which he provided to Mrs. Foreman which he says unjustly enriched her estate.

[90] To establish entitlement to compensation on a quantum meruit, Mr. Reid has the burden of proving the elements of unjust enrichment, which are:

an enrichment;
a corresponding deprivation;
the absence of any juristic reason for the enrichment.
See Peel (Regional Municipality) v. Canada, [1992] 3 S.C.R. 762, 98 D.L.R. (4th) 140.

[91] I am satisfied that Mr. Reid has met that burden.

[92] While Mr. Reid’s explanation for his devotion to Mrs. Foreman to the detriment of his professional career is at first blush difficult to understand, I am satisfied that when considered in light of her many promises to him and his genuine affection for her, it is explicable.

[93] The totality of the evidence establishes that Mrs. Foreman was a domineering woman whose will would not easily be overborne, and I find that Mr. Reid chose to accommodate her wishes that he provide care services to her and be compensated for that rather than defy or displease her by carrying on full time with his own career in real estate.

[94] That decision was not, of course, entirely altruistic. I accept that promises, including one that she would transfer at least half of the title to her valuable home, and one that she would provide him with a bequest for $200,000, were made to him by Mrs. Foreman. If they had come to fruition, Mr. Reid would have been generously compensated for his efforts.

[95] Mr. MacRae also testified that Mrs. Foreman variously discussed with him giving Mr. Reid half of her house, or up to $200,000, to express her gratitude and debt to him, and that after further discussions with Mr. MacRae in early 2005, gave Mr. MacRae instructions to settle a gift of $100,000 upon Mr. Reid in the contemplated alter ego trust.

[96] I do, however, also find that in addition to acting upon promises of further recompense, Mr. Reid cared deeply for Mrs. Foreman and her well-being, and did his best to care for her as she wished. His obvious distress and emotion when testifying about his removal from the Capilano Road home by the police in June of 2005, and his loss of contact.

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