There is a Supreme Court of Canada decision which I point out to fresh articling students: Whiten v. Pilot Insurance Co., 2002 SCC 18,  1 S.C.R. 595. The plaintiff in that case had a fire insurance policy with Pilot Insurance. Her house burnt down and she claimed on the policy.
Pilot’s lawyer advised the insurance company to oppose the claim; shopped among expert witnesses to get a favourable opinion; explicitly told the insurance company that the plaintiff was short of cash so he could squeeze her by spinning out the proceedings to force a settlement; in short, he was a ball-busting’ lawyer, out to do whatever he could to win the case for his client.
Fortunately for the plaintiff, she found a lawyer who was willing to take the case pro bono, and to run an eight week jury trial, arguing that the insurance company should pay out on the policy.
The jury found for the plaintiff and in addition to the award of $345,000 on the insurance contract, gave an award of $1,000,000 in punitive damages against the insurance company for their reprehensible conduct, in following the advice of their ball-bustin’ lawyer. The trial judge added on an award of $320,000 to cover all of the plaintiff’s court costs, which is quite unusual in Canada; costs are normally only a partial indemnity, not full indemnity. Total bill at trial for having a ball-bustin’ lawyer: $1,665,000.
The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the jury, including the million dollar award in punitives. They added on court costs for the Supreme Court appeal, not specified in the judgment.
Moral from my perspective: the ball-bustin’ lawyer is not the best option. It is an adversarial system, but taking a “win at all costs” approach is not good for the client (nor one’s own professional reputation!)