Local photographer awarded $190,000 for pain and suffering after losing his creative muse

John Boyd of Collette Parsons Corrin LLP obtained a $240,000.00 verdict in favor of plaintiff following a November/December 2020 trial.

Mr. Brian Howell was an upcoming photographer in Vancouver when an accident resulted in the loss of his creative muse.

Mr. Howell’s Background & Photography

Mr. Howell majored in film and photography at Ryerson University. Following his graduation, he was one of the only two Canadians selected to attend the prestigious “Barn Storm” workshop in New York (a workshop for the top 100 photojournalist prospects in the world as judged by the photo editor of the New York Times). He started his career in Toronto, assisting photographers, providing photography for newspapers and magazines, and pursuing his own art projects. Later in the 90s, he moved back to BC to take a job with a local newspaper and had his first gallery show in Vancouver. In the early 2000s, Mr. Howell travelled to India to photograph Canada’s version of Mother Theresa, and these photos were exhibited in Toronto and published with a story written by Mr. Howell in Maclean’s, which opened up a long-standing relationship with the magazine that lasted until 2016.

Mr. Howell had a number of exhibits at the Winsor Gallery in the 2000s. In 2010, he shot the Olympics for Maclean’s Magazine. Mr. Howell’s most successful exhibition was Shopping Carts in April of 2011, which was inspired by what Mr. Howell saw in Vancouver’s streets. Mr. Howell had a variety of projects following that, including “Printing Press” in 2013 that went to the Surrey Art Gallery and another private collector. In 2014, Mr. Howell planned on a project, “Burnt Forest,” that he was working on at the time of the accident.

Aftermath of the Accident & Court Award

Following the January 2015, accident, Mr. Howell suffered from PTSD and persistent depressive disorder, diagnoses accepted by the court. His prognosis for these conditions varied among the experts called at trial. Mr. Howell’s treating psychologist testified at trial that “[Mr. Howell] had lost his muse.” The court noted that prior to the accident, Mr. Howell was “highly-engaged and dedicated to his photography, and socializing enthusiastically as part of Vancouver’s artistic world,” and following the accident, that changed completely. The court awarded Mr. Howell $190,000 in non-pecuniary damages and noted “he lost the focus necessary to do what he loved doing, suffering depression along the way, and deserves that compensation as a result.”

 

Howell v. Strutt, 2021 BCSC 92