"Analytically Weak" Expert Report Criticized in Brain Injury Prosecution
Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, criticizing an expert report characterizing it as ‘analytically weak’.
In the recent case (Anderson v. Kozniuk) the Plaintiff was involved in a pedestrian/vehicle collision. Both parties were found partially at fault. The Plaintiff suffered some orthopaedic injuries and also alleged the collision caused a traumatic brain injury. The Court heard competing evidence regarding this and ultimately concluded that no brain injury occurred as a result of the crash. In rejecting the Plaintiff’s evidence the Court provided the following critical comments about the expert evidence in support of the claim:
 Dr. Ancill greatly diminished or completely ignored clinical records, such as the ambulance Crew Report and Royal Columbian Hospital clinical records. His explanation for doing so was the people filling those forms probably asked the wrong question of Mr. Anderson (“what happened?” instead of “what do you remember?”). Dr. Ancill does not know and did not enquire what questions were asked by the people who completed the clinical records. He simply assumed the wrong question was asked and ignored their observations. In my view, Dr. Ancill has exaggerated the importance of which question is asked, especially when interviewing a patient years after the Accident.
 Dr. Ancill took all of Mr. Anderson’s and his mother’s description of Mr. Anderson’s changed behaviours at face value. Obviously, psychiatric assessment relies heavily on patient’s self-report. But it is expected that psychiatrists will exercise their skills and knowledge to assess the subject’s mood and behaviour in light of all circumstances, especially medically significant factors, in order to reach an accurate diagnosis. In my view, Dr. Ancill did not do that. I find that he summarily dismissed or greatly diminished the importance of objective evidence recorded close in time to the Accident and recorded by people trained to assess patients’ conditions for injury (the clinical records). This treatment of the clinical records is, in my view, highly problematic…
 It is curious that Dr. Ancill suggested that even a “brief” loss of consciousness (in this case he assumed as little as 30 seconds) was medically significant. This was expressly contradicted by Drs. Siu, Prout and O’Shaughnessy who stated a “brief” period of loss of consciousness or disorientation that typically accompanies a mild traumatic brain injury would be about between 15 and 30 minutes. There is simply no evidence that Mr. Anderson was either unconscious or disorientated within the 30 minutes following the Accident, or at all.
 Dr. Ancill also ignored or gave little relevance to factors that may very well have impacted his opinion, such as Mr. Anderson’s anxiety and his history of alcohol use.
 Dr. Ancill provided a rebuttal report. Rather than respond to Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s criticisms of his methodology and conclusions, Dr. Ancill merely provides a clarification of his earlier report. In my view, the second report does not clarify the first report, and it is unhelpful. I place no weight on it…
 Overall, I find Dr. Ancill’s evidence unreliable for all the reasons above. I also find his expert report analytically weak. Many conclusions are stated with little reasoning. His rebuttal report in particular is akin to an argument justifying his earlier conclusions rather than a response to Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s significant criticisms of his methodology and medical reliability. I place minimal weight on Dr. Ancill’s evidence.