BC Court of Appeal Upholds Jury Strike Applicaiton in "Prolonged" Personal Injury Case

Reasons for judgement were release this week by the BC Court of Appeal upholding a judges decision to strike a jury notice in a complex and prolonged personal injury trial.
In this week’s case (Wallman v. Gill) the Plaintiff alleged that “he suffered serious injuries” in a rear end collision.   The trial was scheduled with “at least 23 experts…as well as some 31 civilian witnesses” and was expected to last 7 weeks.  The Defendants wished to have the trial judge proceed before a jury but a chambers judge struck the jury notice finding the trial was too prolonged and complex for a jury.  In upholding this decision the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:
[7]           The decision to strike a jury notice is a discretionary one that relates to the management of a trial and may not be interfered with lightly on appellate review: MacPherson v. Czaban, 2002 BCCA 518. Absent an error of principle, or failure to give sufficient weight to all relevant considerations, deference must be accorded to such an order.
[8]           The legal test to be applied on review of a discretionary order is whether the judge “has given weight to all relevant considerations”: Mining Watch Canada v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries & Oceans), 2010 SCC 2, [2010] 1 S.C.R. 6 at para. 43. The appellants contend that the chambers judge acted on irrelevant considerations or alternatively failed to apply established legal criteria. With respect, I do not agree.
[9]           In this case, the chambers judge found that the issues for trial will require a scientific investigation. This is a factual determination for which deference must be accorded absent palpable and overriding error, which is not alleged. In the exercise of his discretion, he found that the scientific investigation into the proposed evidence could not conveniently be undertaken by a jury. In reaching that conclusion, the judge was satisfied that a proper review of the evidence and the legal issues could not be ensured by a jury that would be required to understand and retain opinion evidence from a large number of expert witnesses over a protracted period of time…
[13]        These decisions, in addition to many others, demonstrate the type of considerations that must be weighed when faced with an application to strike a jury notice. The management of a proposed civil jury trial requires the judge to ensure, as best as he or she can, that all who are involved, including the parties, their counsel, the potential jurors and the trial judge are able to satisfactorily perform their respective duties and responsibilities in order to meet the common objective of a fair trial.
[14]        In this case, the chambers judge applied the correct legal test under R. 12-6(5) for the striking of a jury notice and in my view cannot be said to have erred in the exercise of his discretion in striking the jury notice in order to ensure the proper conduct and management of the trial of this action. Accordingly, I find no basis upon which this Court might interfere with the order and therefore I would dismiss the appeal.

bc injury law, jury strike applications, Rule 12, Rule 12-6, Rule 12-6(5), Wallman v. Gill

Contact

If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

Disclaimer