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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

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Posts Tagged ‘Dhaliwal v. Owens’

Late DME Application Dismissed; Responsive Exam Limitations Discussed

January 10th, 2012

Helpful reasons for judgement were recently released by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, dismissing a defence application to have a Plaintiff assessed by a neurosurgeon.  In short the Court found the application was brought too late in the claim and that there was insufficient evidence to justify a physical exam for a truly ‘responsive‘ medical report.

In the recent case (Dhaliwal v. Owens) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 collision.  The injuries included low back pain.  Surgery was anticipated but as time went on the Plaintiff experienced some symptom improvement and surgery became less likely.

In the course of the lawsuit the Defendants put the matter into fast track litigation (Rule 15).  They failed to obtain a medical report in a timely fashion.  When they finally did apply the 84 day service deadline set out in Rule 11-6(3) had come and gone.  The Defendants argued that they needed the report for responsive purposes and further that the cancellation of the Plaintiff’s anticipated surgery amounted to a change of circumstances justifying the late application.   Master Keighley rejected both of these arguments and dismissed the application.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[7]  Now, I had indicated earlier that it is likely that had this matter come to light a year ago, this application would not have been before me today.  What causes the problem is Rule 11-6(3) which requires that an expert report, in general terms, be delivered at least 84 days prior to the scheduled trial date.  The 84th day, I am told by counsel who have done the arithmetic, passed…almost a couple of weeks ago…

[14]  Now, this is not a situation, and we do sometimes see it, where the physician has either directly or indirectly provided evidence with respect to the necessity of a physical examination of a party.  There is nothing before me in the material to explain why a physical examination is required in this case other than the statements from the paralegal that I have referred to.

[15]  In the case of Wright v. Brauer, a decision of Mr. Justice Savage reported as 2010 BCSC 1282, Justice Savage considering similar circumstances said at paragraph 22

In my opinion, the bare assertion reported to a legal assistant in this case is insufficient to support an order under Rule 7-6(1) that the plaintiff attend the Examination, when the defendants are limited to providing response reports under Rule 11-6(4)”

Justice Savage dismissed the application and is reference to Rule 11-6(4) harks back to his remarks at paragraph 12 of that decision where he said:

Rule 11-6(4) was enacted to fill a lacuna in the Rules.  Under the former Rules, Rule 40A permitted parties to call expert evidence in reply without notice at trial.  In order for such evidence to be admitted, however, it had to be truly responsive to the expert evidence of a witness called by the opposing party.”

He noted that in the case before him, the defendants were, as here, limited by the Rule to what referred to as Justice Williamson in the case of Kelly v. Kelly (1995), 20 BCLR (3d) 232 “truly responsive rebuttal evidence” by virtue of the provisions of Rule 11-6.

[16]  Similarly, Mr. Justice Cullen in the case of Ludecke v. Hillman, 2010 BCSC 1538, considered an appeal from a master’s order which has allowed an examination to provide “truly responsive” evidence.  Justice Cullen upheld the master’s order determining that the necessary evidentiary foundation for the examination was found in the material before him.  In reaching that conclusion, he said:

“To reach the requisite threshold under Rule 11-6(4) the applicant must establish a basis of necessity for the examination to properly respond to the expert witness whose report is served under subrule (3) by the other party.”

[17]  The plaintiff’s injuries, it seems to me, have not really changed in this case.  She has more or less since the outset complained of low back pain, low back problems.  What has changed, if anything, in recent months is the decision of the medical practitioners treating her with regard to the advisability of surgery.  It appears that they have decided for the meantime that surgery is the less desirable option.  Notwithstanding that decision, the plaintiff continues to suffer pain to the extent that she remains, apparently, unable to work.  There has been ample time int his litigation, even before this change in the plaintiff’s circumstances, for the defence to seek and obtain evidence from a neurosurgeon or other specialist with respect to her condition.  Although the provisions of Rule 7-6 and its predecessor Rule were enacted to attempt to affect a level playing field between the parties with respect to medical evidence, I do not see that the defence will be prejudiced by being restricted to an opportunity to have Dr. Turnbull or another practitioner of their choice examine the available evidence and render an opinion at trial as to the appropriate treatment of the plaintiff’s injuries.  Overall, of course, I have been considering the issue of proportionality and in the particularly refined context of an application brought in a case governed by Rule 15-1.

[18]  The application is dismissed.

As of today this case is unreported but, as always, I’m happy to provide a copy of the reasons for judgement to anyone who contacts me and requests these.