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It Is Not Appropriate to Order a Medical Exam By An Expert Who previously "Bordered on Advocacy"

In my continued efforts to track judicial comments addressing expert witness advocacy, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Cranbrook Registry, dismissing an application for a defence medical exam where the proposed examiner wrote a previous report that, in the Court’s view, “border(ed) on advocacy“.

In last week’s case (Moll v. Parmar) the Defendant sought to have the Plaintiff examined by a neuropsychologist.  Prior to the proposed exam the doctor wrote a “very vigorous critique” relating to the Plaintiff’s expert’s conclusions.  The Court held that, in such circumstances, it is “not appropriate for the court to order a medical examination…by an expert who has previously taken such a strong stance“.

In dismissing this application Mr. Justice Meiklem provided the following reasons:

[13]         Turning first to the Master’s errors alleged by the appellant, I initially gave rather short shrift to Mr. Harris’ submission that Drs. Craig and Williams had been recruited as advocates for the defence by virtue of the nature of the defence requests to them and the nature and content of their reports, that they should be viewed as lacking the necessary objectivity to warrant being appointed by the court to conduct IMEs of the plaintiff. After considering the retainer letters and the reports of Drs. Williams and Craig, I see considerable merit in the appellant’s argument with respect to Dr. Williams’ compromised objectivity. The circumstances in respect of Dr. Craig’s report are somewhat different.

[14]         The appellant’s concern was not only the advocacy bias apprehended by the plaintiff, but also the bias concerning the plaintiff’s condition that was already demonstrated by the roles these experts were retained for and the reports they had already delivered. He considered it highly improbable and purely theoretical that either of these specialists would be able to change any previously expressed views after their examinations of the plaintiff.

[15]         Dr. Williams’ report emanated from a retainer letter wherein the pertinent paragraph stated simply that Mr. Moll was advancing a claim for a head injury in a highway collision and then stated: “I ask that you please kindly review the enclosed report of Dr. Jeffrey Martzke dated May 1, 2012, together with the enclosed documentation set out in the attached schedule “A”, with a view to discussing Mr. Moll’s claim with me.” The letter promised to forward Dr. Martzke’s raw test data, which was forwarded in due course and reviewed by Dr. Williams.

[16]         Dr. Williams described the purpose of his report as responding to the reports of Dr. Martzke and Dr. Wallace (the plaintiff’s vocational consultant) and he said he limited his comments to aspects pertaining to the methods, procedures and process of the reports, as well as the sufficiency of the conclusions recommendations or diagnoses of Drs. Martzke and Wallace.

[17]         Dr. Williams’ report is, however, a very rigorous critique of Dr. Martzke’s methods and testing, as well as his conclusions, and in my view does at least border on advocacy, as argued by Mr. Harris. Dr. Williams’ criticisms of Dr. Martzke’s report and findings may well be found to be completely correct, and my comments will not fetter the trial judge’s rulings if the report is tendered, but I do not think it is appropriate for the court to order a medical examination of a plaintiff by an expert who has previously taken such a strong stance in accepting the role as a reviewer of a previous examiner’s report, particularly in view of the specific provisions of Rule 11-2(1) of the Civil Rules.

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