A woman who once modeled for Playboy and Penthouse magazines was permanently incapacitated after she was hit by an out-of-control SUV while inside a Langley City health food store in May 2013.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has awarded $440,000 in compensation to Elaine Margaret Starchuk for the accident.
Starchuk was standing at the deli counter at Nature’s Fare Market when the vehicle, driven by a man in his 80s, crashed through the glass windows and hit her.
She was slammed into the wall, leaving a dent.
At the time, it appeared the driver had accidentally hit the gas while meaning to press the brake.
In her written decision, New Westminster B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown said Starchuk suffered a soft tissue injury to her neck, shoulders, upper limbs, back, chest, and right foot; a torn breast implant which required surgery and has left her with postoperative pain; chronic neck and shoulder pain; soft tissue injuries to her arms with persisting forearm and hand pain, numbness and tingling as well as “post-traumatic stress disorder, somatic symptom disorder, chronic pain, and a mild traumatic brain injury.”
The judge said Starchuk will “remain at risk for a potential reduction in capacity due to her psychiatric diagnoses because of exacerbation from stress or other triggers; increased risk of developing another psychiatric diagnosis; and increased risk of developing fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.”
During the seven-day trial in March, the court heard that Starchuk began modeling when she was 18 and first had breast augmentation surgery in the 1980s.
“She had modeled for Penthouse and Playboy and personal appearance was very important to her,” the judge noted.
Before the accident, Starchuk had been a competitive bodybuilder, took up yoga and was considering becoming a personal instructor.
“She was very strong and active and had no complaints with her hands, wrists, neck or back,” the judge said.
In the early 2000s she developed ovarian cancer and received treatment.
On the day of the accident Starchuk was standing at the Deli counter in the health food store and was speaking with one of the staff.
She remembers hearing a loud crash and people screaming, something coming toward her and remembers having her hands up and going backward.
The deli counter was pushed back by the impact with the vehicle, forcing Starchuk into the drywall, causing it to collapse around her.
She had just launched an eyelash extension business.
Because of her modeling career and marriage to Motley Crue drummer, Tommy Lee (she was his first wife) the judge said Starchuk was “well connected” and had the opportunity to do lash extensions for people in the modeling and film industries.
As a result of her injuries, while she still has her Surrey-based business, she is no longer able to apply lashes herself.
“Her hands are numb, her shoulders and neck hurt, and she has lost dexterity such that she is not able to hold tweezers properly,” the judge said.
Since the accident, the formerly gregarious Starchuk has become much less social, the judge added.
“She rarely goes out.”
The judgment awarded her $135,000 for pain and suffering, a total of $200,000 for loss of earning capacity in the past and the future, with the rest of the $440,000 going to cover future care and special damages