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Tribute singer gets court settlement in crash case

A court has awarded more than $350,000 to a singer whose burgeoning Bette Midler act was cut short by an accident in New Westminster.

But it was a lot less money than what she was seeking.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jon Sigurdson ordered Sandip Kandola to pay Suzanne Marie Giczi $353,000.

Kandola’s vehicle hit the one Giczi was riding in from behind in a three-vehicle collision Aug. 14, 2008.

At the time Giczi, 48, had a Bette Midler tribute act called BetteRageous. She had high hopes it would take off and asked for $375,000 in lost wages since the accident.

Her lawyers also pegged the starting point for determining her loss of future earnings at more than $1.5 million.

Giczi’s lawyers argued the accident was devastating because she lost the ability to do what she loves the most—to sing and perform.

The crash affected every part of her life, they said, including the relationship with her long-time partner, singer Russell Marsland.

Court heard that at the time of her accident, Giczi was coming off a scare from breast cancer and another accident in 2007.

Those issues along with another project she was committed to stalled development of BetteRageous.

Her lawyers argued the tribute act could have earned her more than $100,000 a year for the next 20 years. But Kandola’s lawyers noted Giczi’s tax returns showed her gross annual income between 2001 and 2008 ranged from $2,000 to $23,600.

In his judgment, Sigurdson ruled there was enough medical evidence to show the accident did cause a muscle tension injury and chronic pain. And that these factors reduced her ability to sing.

Sigurdson noted her act BetteRageous, which he viewed on video, was good and had been well received by audiences at the PNE, and Starlight Casino in New West. But he also said based on the evidence her potential to make it big wasn’t that great and pegged it at roughly 15 per cent.

He said even if she had long-term success it would “likely only have followed after several years developing, marketing and performing the act.”

He added, even with success there’s a lot of negative things that can happen reducing possible income including loss of interest by the public.

Sigurdson heard testimony over five weeks last June and July before issuing his ruling Wednesday.

He awarded Giczi $40,000 for lost income, $175,000 for future earnings, $10,000 for care costs, $8,000 in special damages of $8,000 and $120,000 for pain and suffering.

 

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