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Palmquist v. Ziegler, 2010 ABQB 337:  fatality case involving a family breadwinner with a spouse and three children. Justice Read made determinations as to which economist’s assumption she would accept, then directed that calculations be undertaken using these assumptions. In this case, Read J. accepted Ms. Brown’s assumptions with respect to Mr. Palmquist’s income as of the date of trial ($81,568);1 industry-specific productivity growth from Informetrica’s forecasts; the real discount rate; unemployment contingency; retirement age; divorce contingency; remarriage contingency; housekeeping hours; health contingency for housekeeping; children’s age of independence; and tax gross-up strategy (assuming interest income only).2  Damages for the family were ultimately assessed at more than $1 million, not including special damages or legislated amounts. Justice Read determined that CPP survivorship benefits should not be deducted from the family’s losses, and that the tax gross-up should be based on the entire claim, not the WCB subrogated amount.

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[1] The decedent’s income level was modified by both experts at trial due to additional information from the decedent’s employer that was provided during the trial.
[2] The one assumption that Justice Read did not agree with was our assumption of a 5% annual RRSP contribution rate for the 29-year-old decedent, which appeared to be mainly due to Mr. Palmquist’s decision to withdraw his RRSP contributions in 2000 and 2001. This may have been related to the birth of the Palmquist family’s twins in 2002. On one hand, this may have been prudent, given the research we now have on the slow repayment rate for Canadians who withdraw from their RRSPs (only 25 to 33% repay the amounts in 3 to 5 years, respectively). On the other hand, a better assumption for us to have made might have been to assume 0% RRSP contributions until age 35, and assume a 5% contribution rate to RRSP thereafter.