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.

Posts Tagged ‘Rule 11-7(6)’

Plaintiff Who Failed to “Re-Serve” Opposing Party’s Expert Report Cannot Rely On It

May 30th, 2018

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding that a party cannot rely on an opposing party’s expert evidence if they fail to ‘re-serve’ the report in the timelines set out in the BC Supreme Court Rules.

In today’s case (Karpowicz v. Glessing) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision and sued for damages.  The Defendant retained and served an expert report.  The Defendant eventually elected not to rely on the report and at trial the Plaintiff tried to use the report in support of his case.  The Court noted that the Plaintiff could not do so as he failed to serve the report as his own pursuant to the BC Supreme Court Rules.  In reaching this decision Madam Justice MacNaughton provided the following reasons:

[40]         On receipt of Ms. Beattie’s report, the plaintiff did not follow the usual practice of immediately re‑serving Ms. Beattie’s report on the defendant as a report on which he intended to rely. The plaintiff also did not attempt to re‑serve the report as a rebuttal report on which he intended to rely on the 42‑day deadline for doing so under Rule 11‑6(4).

[41]         In the process of compiling a joint book of experts’ reports, plaintiff’s counsel was advised by defence counsel that she no longer intended to call Ms. Beattie. In seeking to rely on the report, plaintiff’s counsel argued that as the report had been served, he was entitled to demand that Ms. Beattie be available for cross-examination under Rule 11‑7(3)(b) which states, in relevant part:

(3)  A party of record may demand that an expert whose report has been served on the parties of record under Rule 11-6 attend at the trial for cross-examination as follows:

(b) if the expert was appointed by a party under Rule 11-4 … any party of record who is adverse in interest to the party who appointed that expert may, within the demand period referred to in subrule (2) (a) of this rule, demand the attendance of the expert for cross-examination.

[42]         Plaintiff’s counsel did not refer me to any cases which supported his argument.

[43]         In my view, the plaintiff’s argument is just not supported by the rule. The rules with respect to tendering experts’ reports must be read as a whole, and it is the decision of a party to tender an expert’s evidence at trial which triggers the right of the other party or parties to demand the attendance of the expert for cross-examination.

[44]         For example, Rule 11‑6(1) sets out the formal requirements for a report that is to be tendered. Rule 11‑6(3) and (4) sets out the requirements for service and focus on a report that is to be tendered at trial. Rule 11‑6(6) deals with the requirements for a supplementary report in the event the expert changes his opinion with respect to an expert report that is to be tendered at trial. The focus is on tendered evidence.

[45]         The plaintiff has the burden of proving his case. The defendant is not required to prove anything and, as a result, may elect not to call any evidence and no adverse inference can be drawn from the failure to do so.

[46]         As an alternative argument, the plaintiff submits that I should exercise my discretion to waive the 84‑day deadline for delivery of Ms. Beattie’s report to allow the plaintiff to rely on her report and call her as his witness. He submits that the defendant will not be prejudiced as a result of the late delivery of Ms. Beattie’s report, as the defendants are aware of its content and are able to prepare to cross-examine her on short notice.

[47]         Rule 11‑7(6) describes when the requirements of Rule 11‑6 may be dispensed with:

(6) At trial, the court may allow an expert to provide [expert] evidence, on terms and conditions, if any, even though one or more of the requirements of this Part have not been complied with, if

(a) facts have come to the knowledge of one or more of the parties and those facts could not, with due diligence, have been learned in time to be included in a report or supplementary report and served within the time required by this Part,

(b) the non-compliance is unlikely to cause prejudice

(i) by reason of an inability to prepare for cross-examination, or

(ii) by depriving the party against whom the evidence is tendered of a reasonable opportunity to tender evidence in response, or

(c) the interests of justice require it.

[48]         These provisions are disjunctive, so if any one of them applies, then the report in question may be admissible. For that proposition I cite Kaigo Retirement Communities Ltd. v. Sawchuk Developments Company Ltd., 2014 BCSC 1858 at para. 15, and Perry v. Vargas, 2012 BCSC 1537 at para.s 14 to 15.

[49]         In this case, although the plaintiff did not specifically rely on 11‑7(6) or frame his arguments in terms of the reconsiderations in that rule, the plaintiff’s arguments are essentially that the non‑compliance with the 84‑day deadline is unlikely to cause prejudice and the interests of justice require a waiver of the deadline in this case. I accept that the defendant would not be prejudiced in preparing to cross-examine Ms. Beattie. However, I do not consider this an appropriate case in which to exercise my discretion to waive entirely the 84‑day deadline. In my view, the discretion in Rule 11‑7(6) was intended to abridge the timelines in the rules and not to waive them entirely.

[50]         The practice of re‑serving favourable opposing parties’ experts’ reports is not uncommon in personal injury litigation. It was a procedure which was open to the plaintiff in this case. In addition, the interests of justice in this case do not require a waiver. The plaintiff has obtained and is relying on reports from Jeff Padvaiskas, an occupational therapist, and from Niall Trainor, an expert in vocational rehabilitation. Admittedly, Ms. Beattie’s report is more current, but it does not address new issues and would be duplicative. If the plaintiff was concerned about the dates of his experts’ reports, it was open to him to obtain updated reports, and for these reasons, I conclude that the plaintiff should not be permitted to rely on Ms. Beattie’s report.


Failure To List Documents Leads To Expert Report Exclusion

October 27th, 2014

Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, excluding an expert report for failing to disclose a list of documents reviewed.

In today’s case (Lawrence v. Parr) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2010 collision and sued for damages.  The Plaintiff alleged that the collision caused some hearing loss.  Prior to trial the Defendant served a report from an otolaryngologist which opined that the hearing loss was not from the collision.  The report was criticized for a number of reasons including being served beyond the timelines required under the Rules of Court.  The report as ultimately excluded from evidence with Mr. Justice Tindale noting that the expert’s failure to list documents reviewed and relied on was a fatal error.  In excluding the report the Court provided the following reasons:

[126]     Rule 11-6 (1) states a number of mandatory requirements of an expert report. Dr. David’s report did not contain the certification required under Rule 11-2 (2) though that was remedied at a later date. It does not contain the instructions provided to Dr. David. His report is not clear as to the nature of the opinion being sought and the issues in the proceeding to which the opinion relates. But most importantly it does contain a description of the factual assumptions on which his opinion is based. There is not a comprehensive list of the documents that he relied on. Where he does discuss a document that he relied on he either makes vague, inaccurate or misleading references to that document.

[127]     I am mindful of Rule 11-7 (6) however. The admission of this report will cause prejudice to the plaintiff because despite a very lengthy cross-examination it is not clear what the purpose of Dr. David’s report was and what his factual assumptions were.

[128]     In my view, for all the above noted reasons Dr. David’s report and evidence at the video deposition are inadmissible.


"Significant Prejudice" Bars Admission of Late Defence Rebuttal Report

January 28th, 2013

As previously discussed, Rule 11-7(6) allows the BC Supreme Court to admit expert evidence that does not otherwise comply with the Rules of Court.  Reasons for judgement were released last week addressing this discretionary power in cases where prejudiced is caused by the late report.

In last week’s case (Neyman v. Wouterse) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 collision.  The Defendant proceeded to trial with only one expert report which was served well outside of the timelines required by the Rules of Court.  The Defendant asked the Court to allow the report into evidence arguing that there would be severe prejudice if the report was excluded as “it is the only medical evidence available to him to tender into evidence“.

Mr. Justice Walker refused to allow the report in finding the Plaintiff would be prejudiced by depriving her adequate time to prepare for cross-examination.  In so finding the Court provided the following reasons:

26]         I am satisfied that plaintiff’s counsel has, through no fault of his own or of his client, not been able to properly consult with his client’s medical experts to determine the answers to those questions. It is also clear to me that standing the trial down for a half day or day or two does not afford the plaintiff and her counsel the opportunity to properly respond to Dr. Bishop’s report, even if it was admitted on a redacted basis.

[27]         In all, I am satisfied, from counsels’ submissions and from the nature of the evidence given by the medical experts to date, that plaintiff’s counsel may well have approached the preparation and prosecution of his client’s case quite differently if he had known that Dr. Bishop’s report was to be admitted…

[32]         As a result of his position concerning terms, which in my respectful view seeks to constrain the outcome of the application to the defendant’s greatest advantage, I conclude that the defendant cannot meet the requirements of Rule 11-7(6)(b).

[33]         Lastly, turning to sub-rule (c), as Savage J. noted in Perry, there must be some “compelling analysis” why the interests of justice require the Court to exercise its discretion to allow the “extraordinary step” of abrogating the requirements of the Rules. None was presented by the defendant in submissions. Moreover, I find that the circumstances of this case, particularly the dilatory conduct of the defendant, do not compel me to exercise my discretion under sub-rule (c) to admit Dr. Bishop’s report into evidence without an adjournment on terms. To otherwise admit Dr. Bishop’s report would not be in the interests of justice.

[34]         As a result, the defendant’s application is dismissed. Dr. Bishop’s report will not be admitted into evidence.


Permitting Late Expert Evidence in the Interests of Justice a Remedy to be Used "Sparingly"

October 22nd, 2012

Rule 11-7(6) discusses the circumstances when the BC Supreme Court can allow expert evidence to be introduced at trial which does not otherwise comply with the Rules of Court.  Reasons for judgement were released last week addressing this section.  In short the Court held that allowing non-compliant expert evidence to be introduced in the interests of justice is a discretion that “must be exercised sparingly, with appropriate caution, and in a disciplined way“.

In the recent case (Perry v. Vargas) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision.  On the last business day before trial the Plaintiff served a ‘supplementary report’ from her expert which bolstered the experts previous views, clarified statements made in the previous report, and lastly critiqued the defence medico-legal report.s

The Plaintiff argued the late report ought to be admitted as a ‘supplementary report’ pursuant to Rule 11-6(6) or in the alternative the Court should exercise its discretion to allow the non-compliant report in through Rule 11-7(6).  Mr. Justice Savage rejected both of these arguments and in doing so provided the following reasons:

[9]             Rules 11-6(6) (a party’s own expert) and 11-6(5) (a jointly appointed expert) are cognate provisions designed to deal with circumstances where an expert’s opinion “changes in a material way”. Rule 11-6(6) contains an election. In the case of one’s own expert, a party must determine whether it still seeks to rely on the expert report notwithstanding the material change. If it does so, the party must promptly serve a supplementary report.

[10]         Rule 11-6(6) was not intended to allow experts to add either fresh opinions or bolster reasons upon reviewing for the first time or further reviewing material under the guise of there being a material change in their opinion. To provide otherwise would surely defeat the purpose of the notice provisions contained in Rules 11-6(3) and 11-6(4) and the requirement of R. 11-7(1)…

[18]         Rule 11-7(6)(b) focuses on whether there is prejudice to the party against whom the evidence is sought to be tendered. Of course there are cases where reports are delivered a few days late where there is no prejudice. This is not such a case. Delivering a new expert report without any notice well outside of business hours on a Friday evening before a trial commencing Monday morning places the opposing party in obvious difficulties. In my view there is some prejudice to the defendants given the untimely delivery of the Late Report.

[19]         More generally, delivering expert reports on the eve of trial is antithetical to the purpose of the Rules regarding expert reports, which seek to ensure the parties have reasonable notice of expert opinions. Compliance with the Rules allows considered review of the expert opinions, the obtaining of important advice, and possible response reports. Under the former Rules, in Watchel v. Toby, [1997] B.C.J. No. 3150, 33 M.V.R. (3d) 115, Kirkpatrick J., as she then was, excluded in its entirety a late report delivered 12 days before trial where there was insufficient time to obtain any opinion evidence to answer the report.

[20]         Rule 11-7(6)(c) allows the court to admit expert evidence in the interests of justice. It is a separate provision so it can apply in circumstances where the relaxing provisions of Rules 11-7(6)(a) and (b) are not met. Effectively, it provides that the court retains a residual discretion to dispense with the other requirements of R. 11.

[21]         Context here is all important. This is the second scheduled trial. There was a trial management conference with comprehensive trial briefs prepared by both counsel.

[22]         In my view the discretion provided for in R.11-7(6)(c) must be exercised sparingly, with appropriate caution, and in a disciplined way given the express requirements contained in Rules 11-6 and 11-7. That is, the “interests of justice” are not a reason to simply excuse or ignore the requirements of the other Rules. There must be some compelling analysis why the interests of justice require in a particular case the extraordinary step of abrogating the other requirements of the Supreme Court Civil Rules. None was provided.

[23]         In the circumstances, the Late Report is not admissible.


Expert Report Excluded for Tardiness and Credibility Comments

June 14th, 2012

A short but useful analysis was set out in reasons for judgement released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing the admissibility of a tardy expert report.

In the recent case (Stanikzai v. Bola) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 collision.  In the course of the claim the Defendant served a medical report but did so out of the time required by Rule 11-6(3).  Mr. Justice Smith declined to exercise his discretion to admit the report under Rule 11-7(6) finding that the report “would not be of assistance in any event” noting the expert’s opinion improperly delves into credibility.  Mr. Justice Smith provided the following reasons:

[28] The opinions of Dr. Caillier and Dr. Yu are not contradicted by any other medical opinion. At trial, the defendant sought to enter a medical report from an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Ponsford, that had not been served within the 84 day notice period required by Rule 11-6(3). I declined to exercise my discretion to shorten the required notice period and admit the report, largely because I found it would not be of assistance in any event.

[29] The essence of Dr. Ponsford’s opinion was that he was unable to provide a firm medical opinion because of what he regarded as inconsistencies and contradictions within the plaintiff’s history. Credibility is, of course, a matter for the court, not the expert witness.


Treating Experts, Formal Requirements and a Sensible Use of Discretion

May 23rd, 2012

I’ve previously shared my views about the technical requirements of the BC Supreme Court Rules as they relate to expert opinion reports and the fact that Courts should be flexible with these requirements as they relate to treating physicians.  Useful reasons for judgement were released last week dealing with a non-compliant report but ultimately allowing the report to be entered into evidence noting the shortcomings were better addressed by weight, not admissibility.

In last week’s case (Currie v. McKinnon) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 rear-end collision.  In the course of trial the Plaintiff introduced a report that failed to comply with the Rules of Court.  In exercising discretion under Rule 11-7(6) to allow the report in despite its non-compliance Madam Justice Adair provided the following short but useful comments:

[39] Dr. Rawson’s report is dated August 1, 2008.  No real attempt had been made to comply with Rule 11-6(1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules (or even Rule 40A of the former Rules) in relation to the form and content of her report.  The report failed to set out the factual assumptions on which Dr. Rawson’s opinion was based, failed to set out the documents on which she relied in forming her opinion and, generally, failed to set out the reasons for her opinion.

[40] Accordingly, Mr. McKechnie (on behalf of the defendants) objected to the admissibility of Dr. Rawson’s report.  In the result, I ruled that the report would be admitted, and the defects in the report would go to weight.


Should the Rules of Court Be Flexible for Treating Physicians?

December 6th, 2011

(The Below article was first published yesterday at Slaw)

There are two types of expert medical witnesses in personal injury cases; treating physicians and ‘professional‘ witnesses.  I don’t note this with any criticism of the latter category but simply point out that often doctors are brought to Court (by both Plaintiffs and Defendants) to act as independent medical experts to provide opinion evidence.  These professional witnesses often have no role in treating an injured plaintiff.

The BC Supreme Court Rules have strict requirements for expert opinion evidence.  These Rules are applied with equal rigour to both categories of experts.   ‘Professional‘ witnesses  often have little difficulty producing reports which comply with the strict requirements of Rule 11-6.  Treating physicians, on the other hand, often have crucial evidence to share and their opinions are highly valued but they sometimes struggle with the technical requirements of the rules of court.

Treating physicians often want little to do with the Court and have little experience with the nuances of writing reports that meet the rules of evidence.  When asked to author medico-legal reports many are reluctant to do so in the first place and when they do the reports are not slick, polished or necessarily compliant with all of Rule 11’s requirements.

This lack of compliance can risk treating experts’ reports being excluded from evidence.  While the Rules of Court provide judges with discretion to allow expert evidence to be admitted even if technically non-compliant with the Rules of Court “if the interests of justice require it“, this threshold often will not be met by explanation of witness inexperience with the Rules of Court.

New York personal injury lawyer Eric Turkewitz raised the following concern in response to judicial scrutiny of treating doctor reports in his jurisdiction:

New York’s No-Fault law is out of control. It seems to have reached the point where judges are almost demanding one of two things from injured patients: That their doctors get legal tutoring on how to write reports that will satisfy the judiciary, or alternatively, that injured patients seek treatment from only those doctors that already know how to write medical-legal reports.

As was illustrated in the recent BC decision of Milliken v. Rowe, a treating expert is perhaps the most desirable witness for a trier of fact to hear from when it comes to addressing a Plaintiff’s injuries.  Appreciating this, can a balance be struck holding these experts to a more flexible standard when providing a Court with opinion evidence?  Should the Rules be amended to create different standards for treating doctors versus professional witnesses?  Thoughts and feedback are appreciated.


Treating Surgeon Allowed to Give Expert Evidence Despite Non-Compliance With Rules of Court

November 4th, 2011

Although the BC Supreme Court Rules have strict requirements with respect to the admission of expert opinion evidence Rule 11-7(6) gives the Court a wide discretion to dispense with these if “the interests of justice require it“.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating this discretion.

In this week’s case (Milliken v. Rowe) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 collision.  At trial the Plaintiff presented expert opinion evidence from a privately retained physiatrist.  The Plaintiff’s treating orthopaedic surgeon was also called to the stand, however, he was not called as an expert witness but rather as a witness of fact.  Despite this limitation the Court exercised its discretion under Rule 11-7(6) and permitted the treating surgeon to give opinion evidence addressing diagnosis and prognosis.  In doing so Mr. Justice Davies provided the following reasons:

[55] Dr. Zarkadas was not called as an expert witness at trial but he is obviously a well-qualified orthopaedic surgeon. He is also Ms. Milliken’s treating physician concerning her right shoulder difficulties.

[56] As such he was able to assist me in assessing Ms. Milliken’s future prospects if the surgery is undertaken or if it is not. To that extent, his more immediate involvement with and treatment of Ms. Milliken allows insight that was not previously available to Dr. Andrew Travlos (adduced as opinion evidence by the plaintiff) arising from his examinations and enquiries six months earlier.

[57] In those circumstances, notwithstanding the failure of the plaintiff to seek to have Dr. Zarkadas qualified to provide opinion evidence, I determined to receive his evidence concerning his diagnosis and prognosis related to Ms. Milliken’s right shoulder injuries.

[58] I did so over the objection of the defendant because of my belief that the determination of damages in this case should be based upon the best evidence available.

[59] In my opinion, the ability to achieve a just result should be served, rather than thwarted, by the application of procedural rules.

[60] The Court’s power to exercise discretion to allow relief from the harsh consequences of non-compliance with procedural rules recognizes that principle.

[61] I also, however, recognized that the defendant could be prejudiced by the admission and consideration of Dr. Zarkadas’ prognostic evidence if not given an opportunity to answer it.

[62] I accordingly provided the defendant an opportunity to consider whether to call rebuttal evidence before rendering judgment.

[63] I was subsequently informed that the defendant did not intend to do so.