Did Brain Injury Cause Securities Trader to Make Poor Investments?

In the recent B.C. Court of appeal decision of Barta v. DaSilva[1] the court was asked to consider whether a mild traumatic brain injury suffered by a securities trader in a motor vehicle accident caused him to make poor financial investments which resulted in $5 million of losses.  In this case, the Plaintiff Barta, was involved in a motor vehicle collision in July 2007 and suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) in the form of a slight concussion.  Before the accident, the Plaintiff earned a substantial income as a securities trader and personally had several million dollars in stock market investments. Four days after the accident, the Plaintiff returned to trading, but made numerous imprudent and reckless personal trades that caused him to lose a substantial portion of his own investments.  In addition, despite living modestly for several years, the Plaintiff bought a lavish new home that he could not afford and he ended up embroiled in litigation concerning the home which he ultimately lost.  The Plaintiff asserted that his post-accident losses totalled $5 million.

The Plaintiff asserted that his accident was the cause of his reckless trading as he claimed that he experienced headaches, fatigue, irritability and nervousness and also had trouble with his memory and concentration since he accident which  impaired his ability to make careful judgments.

In considering the Plaintiff’s appeal of his unsuccessful lawsuit against the insurer, the Court of Appeal noted that facts demonstrated that the Plaintiff’s assertions suggested otherwise.  In this regard, the Court noted that in the year after the accident, the Plaintiff had actually made some successful, profitable trades that increased his portfolio by over $900,000 and that the Plaintiff’s pattern of trading was no different before the accident than it was afterwards.  The Court also noted that any losses the Plaintiff suffered had coincided with the 2008 economic crash.

Moreover, the Court noted that although the Plaintiff did suffer a mild brain injury in the accident, the medical evidence provided by several brain injury experts showed no lasting effect on his ability to make financial decisions.  The Court therefore concluded that the trial judge had carefully reviewed the evidence in this regard and had correctly concluded that the accident and resulting brain injury did not directly cause the Plaintiff’s financial losses.

In the end, there was no error in the trial judges analysis and conclusions, the Court of Appeal found no reason to interfere with it. The Plaintiff’s appeal was dismissed.

[1]2018 BCCA 68 (CanLII), http://canlii.ca/t/hqks8