ICBC Law

BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

Erik MagrakenThis Blog is authored by British Columbia ICBC injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken. Erik is a partner with the British Columbia personal injury law-firm MacIsaac & Company. He restricts his practice exclusively to plaintiff-only personal injury claims with a particular emphasis on ICBC injury claims involving orthopaedic injuries and complex soft tissue injuries. Please visit often for the latest developments in matters concerning BC personal injury claims and ICBC claims

Erik Magraken does not work for and is not affiliated in any way with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Please note that this blog is for information only and is not claim-specific legal advice.  Erik can only provide legal advice to clients. Please click here to arrange a free consultation.

“Reasonable Efforts” Identifying At Fault Motorist Cannot Be Determined by way of Summary Trial

February 11th, 2016

Adding to this site’s database of ICBC Unidentified Motorist prosecutions, reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Kamloops Registry, finding that the Summary Judgement rule cannot be used to determine if a plaintiff made all reasonable efforts to identify the at fault driver which is a prerequisite to a successful unidentified motorist prosecution.

In today’s case (Lapointe v. ICBC) the Plaintiff used the summary judgement rule to strip ICBC’s defence alleging the Plaintiff failed to make all reasonable efforts to identify the at fault motorist.  ICBC appealed and Mr. Justice Myers overturned the earlier ruling noting the Court can only address this issue when determining liability and cannot address this defense in a piecemeal fashion.  In reaching this decision the Court provided the following reasons:

[8]      The issue in this appeal is purely a legal one. The standard of review is therefore correctness: Ralph’s Auto Supply (B.C.) Ltd. v. Ken Ransford Holding Ltd., 2011 BCSC 999, at para. 7.

[9]      I do not agree with the plaintiff’s argument which artificially separates the cause of action against the unknown driver or owner from the claim against ICBC. Although it is common practice to name John Does as substitutes for the driver and owner, the section does not require that; an action may be brought against ICBC only. It is obvious that there is no John Doe to serve and no default judgment can be taken against the unknown driver or owner. ICBC is fully in control of the defence until the time of judgment or the driver or owner is found. I do not think there is a separate claim against under ICBC under s. 24 as the plaintiff maintains.

[10]    Therefore, a decision on s. 24(5) alone is not determinative of a claim and cannot result in a judgment; it is only a decision on an issue. On the basis of Century Services, it is therefore not amenable to a Rule 9-6 application.

 [11]   That is sufficient to allow the appeal but there is a further related point (not argued by ICBC) which reinforces this conclusion. The obligation to attempt to locate the driver or owner is a continuing one in this sense: if facts come to light that make the identity ascertainable, the plaintiff is no doubt obligated to follow up on that information. And, if the identities become known, section 24(6) provides that the driver or owner must to be substituted for ICBC in spite of any limitation period.  The wording of section 24(5) is that “a judgment against the corporation must not be given unless the court is satisfied that…”. This contemplates a single judgment.

[12]    I therefore do not think that a separate decision on section 24(5) can be made in advance of a decision on liability as a whole. Put another way, the time at which the court must be satisfied as to the factors in s. 24(5) is the time of the determination of liability for the accident. The opposite interpretation would allow for a scenario where s. 24(5) is determined in favour of a plaintiff, and the driver becomes known before the trial on liability. It would then make the substitution for ICBC impossible as the matter would be res judicata.

 [13]   I therefore allow the appeal.


$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic Neck and Back Soft Tissue Injuries

February 3rd, 2016

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing non-pecuniary damages at $70,000 for chronic soft tissue injuries.

In today’s case (Suthakar v. Humble) the Plaintiff was involved in a rear end collision in 2011.  She sustained soft tissue injuries to neck, low back and shoulder.  The court accepted that the low back injury likely involved her sacroiliac complex.  The Plaintiff remained symptomatic at the time of trial  and her symptoms were expected to persist causing some interference in her daily functioning.

In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $70,000 Madam Justice Ballance provided the following reasons:

[118]     For several years now Ms. Suthakar has struggled with residual symptoms in her neck, left shoulder and low back.  Although her symptoms have improved over time and she may enjoy some modest additional improvement in the next while, they have nonetheless persisted and are susceptible to being exacerbated as a result of her work activities and daily domestic duties.  Her nagging pain leaves her exhausted at the end of her work shift.  When she arrives home, she is usually not able to do much of anything beyond taking a hot shower and resting on the couch with a hot pack.  Fortunately for Ms. Suthakar, her symptoms are manageable without medication on her days off.

[119]     The ill‑effects of the Accident have adversely impacted the quality and enjoyment of Ms. Suthakar’s interactions with her sons.  She is not able to play with them in the same way as before and is quick to anger.  Also of significance for this young woman is that her injuries have interfered with her intimate relationship with her husband.

[120]     In prior cases, I have observed that enduring pain, even when it is intermittent and mostly low-grade, can compel unwelcome adjustments to one’s work life and lifestyle and cloud the pleasures of life, as it has in Ms. Suthakar’s case.  Working in pain during the majority of her shifts has become part of Ms. Suthakar’s everyday work life and is likely to continue for many years to come, if not indefinitely.

[121]     I have reviewed the authorities placed before me by counsel.  The cases submitted by Ms. Suthakar’s counsel are more instructive than those relied on by the defendants.  In any event, the case law only provides general guidelines for what is, at its core, a highly individualized assessment.

[122]     Having regard to the Stapley factors and the other case authorities in the context of the evidence in the case at hand, in my opinion, a fair and reasonable award for Ms. Suthakar’s non-pecuniary damages is $70,000.


Court of Appeal Split on Whether Credibility Finding on Misapprehended Evidence Warrants New Trial

January 29th, 2016

Reasons for judgement were released today with split reasons but the BC Court of Appeal addressing whether a new trial is warranted where a Court makes an adverse credibility finding based in part on misapprehended evidence.

In today’s case (Zajaczkowski v. Grauer) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision and sued for damages.  At trial the Plaintiff’s diminished earning capacity claims were dismissed with the Court finding there were issues with the Plaintiff’s credibility.  The trial judge misapprehended some of the Plaintiff’s evidence with respect to his education.  The Plaintiff’s appeal was dismissed but dissenting reasons were provided finding a a new trial was warranted in these circumstances.

The majority provided the following reasons:

[44]         While the judge clearly accepted the thrust of this evidence, which was evidence of fatigue and pain, he also found that it afforded “an insufficient factual underpinning for any compensation for loss of earning capacity”. In my view, the inability of the trial judge to find a factual underpinning for the claim lay not in an error of law; the trial judge expressly noted, at para. 51, that “a plaintiff need only show a real and substantial possibility of a future event leading to an income loss, in accordance with Perren v. Lalari, 2010 BCCA 140”. The claim for loss of earning capacity failed because the judge found the appellant had not met the evidentiary burden described in Perren. He did not accept the appellant’s own evidence of his limitations. The witnesses provided some anecdotal evidence of occasions when the appellant was limited in his work but that did not establish the appellant was, overall, unable to work as much as he had worked before his injury. As the respondents’ counsel submitted, the impact of the appellant’s lingering pain upon his capacity to work may have been so minimal as to be difficult to assess. I cannot say the trial judge erred in coming to the conclusion that the evidence did not support a claim under this head of damages. I would also dismiss the appeal founded upon this argument.

In dissent Madam Justice Saunders reasoned as follows:

[53]         The question on both past and future earnings loss is not whether the appellant’s income was diminished or will be diminished from that which he had earned before the accident, but whether it was diminished or will be diminished from that which he could have earned but for the accident. It appears that the appellant’s business was thriving, considerable work was available to him and it was, in the vernacular, a time in which he could “make hay”. If the appellant’s earnings were lessened by reason of the injury from the accident, the appellant is entitled to be compensated for the diminishment.

[54]         The evidence of the three witnesses discussed above supports the appellant’s evidence that from time to time his injury limited his hours and intensity of work. If accepted, the evidence of these witnesses alone, and combined with the appellant’s evidence, supported a claim for past wage loss of some amount, and possibly a claim for future wage loss on the capital asset approach of Brown v. Golaiy (1985), 26 B.C.L.R. (3d) 353 (S.C.)per Finch J., although certainly not in the scale claimed by the appellant at trial.

[55]         The judge did not review the evidence of these witnesses in any detail and said only that “I accept the thrust of the evidence from those witnesses, that Mr. Zajaczkowski had less energy and more pain after the accident”. The judge concluded, “Their testimony … did not lead to the further conclusion, that in the result, the Plaintiff worked less overall and earned less overall.”

[56]         It is here, I consider, that the judge’s assessment of the appellant’s credibility creates the impact that requires this court to interfere with the order appealed. In my view, one cannot say that absent the error in that credibility assessment, there would have been such a lack of credit given to the substance of the evidence of these witnesses. In other words, the misapprehension of evidence in the credibility assessment leaks into the result of the trial, with the effect that the order made by the judge in respect to earnings loss cannot stand, in my view.

[57]         In reaching this conclusion I have not addressed the last strong conclusion of the judge concerning evidence of the Balano invoice. I agree that such evidence was understood correctly by the judge, and that alone it could have supported rejection of the appellant’s evidence. However, the judge made the appellant’s evidence of his education one leg of what was a relatively brief discussion of credibility, and that leg is broken.

[58]         I would echo the words of Mr. Justice Hall in Loveridge v. British Columbia, 2007 BCCA 425: “The appellant was entitled to a correct consideration of the full substance of his case”. In the circumstances I have described, I do not consider the appellant received that consideration. I therefore conclude that the appeal should be allowed and a new trial ordered.

 


Revenge Porn Leads to $100,000 Award in First of its Kind Case in Canada

January 27th, 2016

When a person shares sexually explicit images with another in confidence and has that confidence betrayed by the recipient posting the images publicly on line are there recognized grounds to sue for damages?  A recent case in Ontario considered this for what I believe to be the first time and  found that such actions indeed attract liability under the existing framework of Canadian tort law.

In the recent case ( Jane Doe464533 v. Doe h/t to the Globe and Mail’s Sean Fine for sharing the case) the court set out the following facts

Screenshot caselaw

 

The video was on line for three weeks and the amount of views it received was unknown.  Justice Stinson awarded $50,000 in compensatory damages, $25,000 in aggravated damages and a further $25,000 in punitive damages along with interest and costs.

In finding this conduct to be tortious the court concluded that the torts of Breach of Confidence, Intentional Infliction of Mental Distress and Invasion of Privacy were all made out by such behavior.


Expert Criticized for Becoming “an Advocate for the Defence”

January 27th, 2016

Adding to this site’s archived case summaries addressing advocacy by expert witnesses, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Kamloops Registry with critical comments about an expert witness.

In today’s case (Odian v. Carriere) the Plaintiff sustained a chronic neck injury as a result of a collision.  Her symptoms impacted her vocational functioning.  In the course of the lawsuit the Defendant had the Plaintiff assessed by an occupational therapist who conducted a functional capacity evaluation and provided the Court with opinion evidence expressing optimism that a kinesiology program “will likely improve” the Plaintiff’s condition.  In criticizing this opinion as “not well based” and expressing concern that the opinion strayed into prohibited advocacy Mr. Justice Dley provided the following comments

[48]         Ms. Phillips’ optimism that the new kinesiology program will likely improve Ms. Odian’s condition is not well based. There is no history or details that would justify her opinion. Ms. Phillips’ initial opinion as set out above was far less certain than what she said at trial.

[49]         I am concerned about the objectivity of Ms. Phillips’ opinion.

[50]         Ms. Phillips’ testimony was challenged particularly in light of a rebuttal report she had prepared. During her cross examination, Ms. Phillips was at times evasive and non-responsive. The tenor of the rebuttal report, coupled with her testimony and demeanor in court, was indicative of a witness who had become an advocate for the defence.

[51]         Putting Ms. Phillips in the most favourable light to the defence, the best that can be said about her opinion is that Ms. Odian may receive some benefit from new programs, but they will not cure her symptoms. Ms. Odian will still have discomfort.

[52]         I prefer the opinions of the medical experts who agree that Ms. Odian’s condition is chronic. Dr. Robinson summarized it best:

The treatment of chronic headache related to head and neck trauma is usually difficult. Research is limited despite the frequency and burden of these injuries to individuals and society. As yet there is no physical therapy that has been found to be curative. At most patients will experience temporary benefit and on occasion the headaches may be more severe following such therapy. I do not believe that there is any further advice to be given other than to maintain an active lifestyle. Regular exercise directed to improving general fitness may increase the sense of well-being and ability to cope with pain.

Dr. Robinson: February 13, 2015 at page 8.

[53]         Dr. Robinson’s opinion is consistent with the views of Drs. Laidlow and Hirsch.

[54]         I also accept the evidence of Ms. Odian. She was truthful and reliable with respect to her injuries and the ongoing symptoms.


$110,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic C5/6 Disc Herniation

January 21st, 2016

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic disc injury sustained in a collision.

In today’s case (Arletto v. Kin) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2010 head on collision.  The Defendant admitted fault.  The Plaintiff sustained a variety of injuries the most serous of which was a disc herniation in his neck which caused chronic symptoms which adversely affected his career as a longshoreman.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $110,000 Madam Justice Dillon provided the following reasons:

[30]         The overwhelming medical opinions and testimony lead to the conclusion that the plaintiff did not have a pre-existing degenerative condition of the cervical spine. He was very healthy and had not been to a doctor in years.

[31]         Dr. Chin stated that there was a risk of further progression of the disc protrusion resulting in worsening symptoms in the future due to repeat injury or trauma. He considered that Arletto was vulnerable to this risk given the nature of his occupation and the fact of disease progression in the absence of additional trauma. Non-surgical management was recommended for now but the possibility of surgery in the future was not ruled out. Dr. Loomer thought that surgery could be a therapeutic consideration if Arletto’s symptoms became intolerable.

[32]         Dr. Nguyen also thought that there was an increased risk of progression of the disc protrusion with the plaintiff’s work. He recommended on-site ergonomic assessment but did not realize that Arletto changes his lift truck daily such that adaptation for individual ergonomics is not practical. He concluded that repetitive neck movement placed Arletto at risk for progression not only of disc herniation, but also arm weakness and worsening neck pain. In cross-examination, Dr. Nguyen said that Arletto was not a candidate for surgery now but that he could be in the future if the pain symptoms were accompanied by weakness or sensory loss.

[33]         Dr. Stancer said that the whooshing sounds that the plaintiff experiences in his left ear are not treatable. The symptoms had not improved over time and are likely to continue indefinitely. The same was said for the headaches with the expectation that they would continue in the same pattern with resultant sleep disruption…

[35]         It is now over five years since the accident. Only the soft tissue injury to the lower back has healed. The plaintiff has continued to work despite shifting pain and other symptoms. There appears no resolution to symptoms from his ongoing injuries. He has lost whatever enjoyment he had from what had already been a limited social life. He continues to look after his personal needs, in keeping with his non-malingering attitude. He has been perseverant and dedicated. As stated by Dr. Stancer, Arletto has coped surprisingly well in the face of continuing pain and uncertainty about his future…

[44]         The plaintiff’s situation is unique. The comparison cases are helpful but only indicators of how others’ pain and suffering were dealt with.

[45]         Arletto was 47 years old at the time of the accident. He had worked his way up to a full time union job as a longshoreman driving a forklift truck and enjoyed some seniority in that position. He was single but with strong family ties and had looked after his sister. He was driving his nephew to a game when the accident occurred. He was known to be private and reserved but enjoyed the collegiality of the union hall. He was healthy and had never been to a massage or physiotherapist.

[46]         Arletto is now 52 years old. He suffers from permanent pain in his neck and shoulder blade and has numbness and tingling down his left arm and into his fingers. He suffered a left-sided disc protrusion at C5/6 with associated annular tear in the accident. The protrusion has impinged the nerve and spinal cord, causing increased pain. He has undergone trigger point injections and two nerve root blocks to relieve the pain with only temporary relief. He has tinnitus and vertigo as a result of the accident. He suffers headaches about three times per week that interrupt sleep. He takes pain medication as required but not often because it interferes with work. A lower back soft tissue injury resolved after just less than two and a half years. Work aggravates his pain. His work has been permanently affected to the point that he has reduced working hours, given up hope of improving his union rating by becoming a crane operator, and planned for an earlier retirement. His family and other relationships have suffered and he cannot tolerate crowds or a noisy family dinner.

[47]         An appropriate award for non-pecuniary damages in this case is $110,000.


Injury Claim Dismissed Following Collision That Was “Impossible” To Recall

January 14th, 2016

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing a personal injury claim involving an alleged hit and run.

In today’s case (Havens v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2010 motorcycle collision.  He sustained a brain injury.  The Plaintiff alleged that the collision was caused through the careless actions of an unidentified motorist operating a red truck.  The Court dismissed the claim finding it was not proven, most notably accepting medical evidence that the plaintiff’s recollection was medically ‘impossible‘ given the nature of his head injury.  In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Myers provided the following reasons:

[22]    ICBC obtained a report from a psychiatrist, Dr. Roy O’Shaughnessy, to address the likelihood of the plaintiff being able to recall the accident reliably after receiving the blow to the head.  He referred to the plaintiff’s memory as being “recovered memory”, which is memory that occurs much later after the fact.  Dr. O’Shaughnessy opined that Mr. Havens’ reported memory is not consistent with the physiology of memory in two ways.  The first was that:

… he states he has developed a memory of being struck in the head by lumber extending out the rear of a pick-up truck that he states was in the lane beside him and crossed into his lane. He then recalls seeing the pick-up truck passing by him in his lane before becoming unconscious. This is physiologically impossible. If he were to have received a blow to the helmet or head that would have rendered him unconscious, it would have occurred immediately with impact and not some time later. He would not have been able to recall seeing the red pick-up truck pass by him and enter into his lane as he believes he recalled. Invariably any blow to the head of such a nature to cause unconsciousness does so immediately post blow. Were he to have actually been struck in the head, he would not have recalled anything post impact and would certainly not have recalled seeing the red pick-up truck accelerate away from him.

[23]    The second is that when he was admitted to the hospital, Mr. Havens had an impaired Glasgow Coma Scale of 7 out of 15.  Given that, it would have been impossible for him to have laid down long-term memory after the blow to the head:

… If there is a disruption in the person’s abilities to attend, focus, or concentrate, they will not be able to lay down memory or recall it at a later date. Individuals who have suffered a head injury of this magnitude will invariably experience impairment in their capacity to attend or concentrate such that the memory will never have been laid down in the first place and it is not “recoverable” at a later date.

[50]    I accept the evidence of Dr. O’Shaughnessy that it would have been impossible for Mr. Havens to be able to recall the accident.

[51]    That would be sufficient to dismiss the action, but the other inconsistencies in Mr. Havens’ evidence and the evidence of the other witnesses confirm that conclusion.


$80,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic and Permanent Low Back Injury

January 13th, 2016

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for a chronic low back injury sustained in a collision.

In today’s case (Gunson v. Sekhon) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2010 collision caused by the Defendant.  The plaintiff suffered a chronic and permanent low back injury.  The lingering symptoms caused some difficulties for the Plaintiff at work but did not outright disable him.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $80,000 Mr. Justice Grauer provided the following reasons:

[12]         It is not contested that Mr. Gunson suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck and back with symptoms including dizziness, headache and sleep loss, most of which problems were resolved within a year of the accident.  On his physician’s advice, Mr. Gunson took 28 days off work and underwent a course of physiotherapy.  I accept that he also suffered an exacerbation of pre‑existing situational depression related to his marital and financial difficulties. 

[13]         What did not resolve and is unlikely ever to resolve is injury to Mr. Gunson’s lower back, which I find has become chronic in the form of ongoing intermittent lower back pain and was caused by the accident.  An MRI taken at the request of Dr. Hershler demonstrated “mild changes consistent with facet joint arthropathy and ligamentum flavum hypertrophy at L3/4 and L5‑S1″, as well as shallow posterior disc bulge with a “minimal central canal encroachment but…mild encroachment on the left L4 nerve root”.  I am satisfied that these changes are part of the lower back injury caused by the accident.

[14]         Dr. Waiz recommended physiotherapy and approved a course of chiropractic treatment, while Dr. Hershler recommended a supervised one‑on‑one active exercise program to assist with further pain management. 

[15]         Apart from the first course of physiotherapy immediately following the accident, which was helpful, Mr. Gunson has not pursued these recommended treatments.  The defence does not, however, allege a failure to mitigate.  Rather, it points to this as indicative of Mr. Gunson’s ability to work without the need of such therapy.

[16]         What is the result of this chronic lower back injury?  Mr. Gunson concedes that he did not do housework before the accident, but he did do yard work and does less now.  He advances no claim for loss of housekeeping capacity.  As his counsel submitted, his real focus in life has been his work. 

[17]         Mr. Gunson continued to work full‑time, but testified that he has had to adjust how he has carried out his job, which is clearly a physically‑demanding one, delegating more of the heavy physical work to junior crew members and resting as required.  I will have more to say about this in relation to his claim for loss of income earning capacity.  At this point, I observe that, notwithstanding the injury he has clearly suffered, he has maintained full‑time employment for over five years, has taken no time off as a result of the injury beyond the first 28 days, has not found it necessary to undergo physical therapy or take pain medication, and was able to change employers twice, by choice, without any impediment arising from his physical condition.

[18]         Mr. Gunson also testified that his injury interferes with his ability to play with his growing children, particularly his three‑year‑old, so that he is unable to be as close to them as he would like.  If his back discomfort is aggravated by his work, it interrupts his sleep.  He has not been able to engage in activities such as snowmobiling and golf, and finds that long rides on his Harley cause a flare‑up of the lower back pain. 

[27]         In all of the circumstances of this case, I conclude that an appropriate award would be $80,000.


Plaintiff Stripped of $56,207 of Costs and Disbursements for Not Beating Formal Defense Offer at Trial

January 13th, 2016

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, highlighting the judicial flexibility and potential financial risks that come into play when a formal offer of settlement is not beat at trial.

In today’s case (Park v. Targonski) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision and sued for damages.  Prior to trial the Defendants made a formal offer of $321,407.  The Plaintiff declined this offer and proceeded to trial where she was awarded $302,643 after applicable statutory deductions.

The Defendants asked the Court to strip the Plaintiff of her post offer costs and disbursements of $56,207 and further to pay the Defendants’ post offer costs and disbursements of $63,769.

The Court found that the offer ought to have been accepted and that it was appropriate to strip the Plaintiff of her post offer costs and disbursements.  The Court noted, however, that awarding the Defendant their costs would create “an unduly punitive sanction”.  In reaching this conclusion Mr. Justice Fitch provided the following reasons:

[47]         Upon consideration of the above-noted factors, as well as the overall purpose of the rules respecting formal offers, I conclude that, pursuant to Rule 9-1(6)(a), the plaintiff shall have her costs at Scale B up to the date of the offer to settle, but not thereafter.  The costs sanction to the plaintiff arising from this order is significant.  She will be denied her costs and disbursements totaling $56,207 from the date of service of the offer to settle.

[48]         I have given close consideration to whether the defendants should be awarded all or a portion of their costs for steps taken in the proceeding after service of the offer to settle pursuant to Rule 9-1(6)(d).  Balancing the applicable considerations as best I can, I have determined not to make this order.  In my view, it is unnecessary to make this order to give effect to the purposes underlying the rule.  More importantly, and for the reasons already given, doing so in this case would visit upon the plaintiff an unduly punitive sanction – one that fails to give any weight:  (1) to the challenges associated with forecasting how a court might assess her loss of future earning capacity claim; and (2) to the plaintiff’s compromised ability to accurately evaluate her own situation.

[49]         The parties will bear their own costs arising out of this application.


Plaintiff Allowed To Tell Jury About Defence Medical Exam That Resulted in no Report

January 4th, 2016

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, confirming it is fair game for a plaintiff to testify they attended a defence medical exam where no report was produced and the Defence is not relying on opinion evidence from their expert.

In the recent case (Norris v. Burgess) the Plaintiff alleged injury as a result of two collisions.  The Defendants denied any injury occurred.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff attended a defence medical appointment with a psychiatrist.  The Defendants “chose not to obtain a medical opinion from the psychiatrist” and did not call him as a witness.  In the course of trial the Defendants objected to the Plaintiff testifying “as to her attendance and surrounding circumstances of the independent medical examination“.

In ruling that such testimony is fair game Mr. Justice Funt provided the following reasons:

[12]        The Court will rule in the plaintiff’s favour.

[13]        As Rule 7-6 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules contemplates, an individual medical examination may be ordered where the “physical or mental condition of a person is in issue”. In this case, the independent medical examination was not pursuant to a court order. The Rule, however, illustrates that an independent medical examination will usually occur only where there is a physical or mental condition in issue.

[14]        The plaintiff’s medical condition is clearly in issue. Where the defence asserts that the plaintiff may have exaggerated her injuries, steps taken by the plaintiff at the request of the defence may be relevant.

[15]        Even if there were for closing argument an agreed stipulation of the plaintiff’s attendance at the independent medical examination, I would prefer that the evidence be led as part of the plaintiff’s case. I would be concerned that the jury could be confused. Evidence and argument should be kept separate.

[16]        Civil litigation is adversarial and litigant-driven. Where one party asks that the other party attend an interview or examination with a third person (whether or not that person is an expert) and the other party so attends, the requesting party should not be surprised that the interview or examination may be relevant with evidentiary consequences, including the possibility of an adverse inference. An unwanted but foreseeable consequence does not give rise to unfair prejudice.

[17]        In short, plaintiff’s counsel may lead evidence as to the plaintiff’s attendance, and surrounding circumstances, regarding the independent medical examination requested by the defendants.