Court Discusses “Golden Years Doctrine”

In Fata v Heinonen, the Court had occasion to discuss the “Golden Years Doctrine”.


[84]           There are several factors to take into account in considering Mr. Fata’s pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.


[85]           I have already made the point that the evidence clearly establishes that Mr. Fata lost some of the enjoyment of his job, due to the ongoing injury in his shoulder. 


[86]           As well, Mr. Fata testified that he was unable to do all of the activities in retirement that he had planned to do, due to his shoulder injury.  The evidence was clear that he was a highly competent handyman and I accept that he would have undertaken several projects around the home in retirement had he not felt the restriction he now feels in his left arm.  As well, I accept that he was an avid gardener and that his enjoyment of gardening has been restricted because of the injury in his left shoulder and arm.


[87]           In addition, Mr. Fata hoped to pursue more fly fishing in his retirement; the injury in his left shoulder and arm has diminished his enjoyment of this activity.


[88]                The retirement years are special years for they are at a time in a person’s life when he realizes his own mortality.  When someone who has always been physically active loses his physical function in these years, the enjoyment of retirement can be severely diminished, with less opportunity to replace these activities with other interests in life.  Further, what may be a small loss of function to a younger person who is active in many other ways may be a larger loss to an older person whose activities are already constrained by age.  The impact an injury can have on someone who is elderly was recognized in Giles v. Canada (Attorney General), [1994] B.C.J. No. 3212 (S.C.), rev’d on other grounds (1996), 21 B.C.L.R. (3d) 190 (C.A.).


[89]               In short, it is Mr. Fata’s loss of enjoyment of life in recreation, home chores, and work that should be compensated for in an award for non-pecuniary damages


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