More Judicial Authority of "Responsive" Independent Medical Exams

One of the New Rules which has received more attention than most is Rule 11-6(4) which deals with responsive reports.  The issue of whether the Court could order a Plaintiff to undergo a physical exam for a responsive report has been considered a good half dozen times.  In short the authorities have held that such an order is possible but the Courts have been conservative in making these orders to date.  Further reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this topic.
In this week’s case (Mahil v. Price) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 motor vehicle collision.  The Defendants did not order an independent medical report in the timelines allowed by Rule 11-6(3) and brought a motion for an exam less than 84 days before trial.  They argued that they only wished to obtain a ‘responsive’ report and that the report would comply with Rule 11-6(4).  Mr. Justice Voith held that such an appointment was permitted and allowed the order.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:








[21] Rule 7-6(1), formerly Rule 30, allows for the conduct of an independent medical examination. The object of Rule 30 was succinctly described by Finch J.A., as he then was, in Stainer v. ICBC, 2001 BCCA 133 at para. 8:

…the purpose of Rule 30 is to put the parties on an equal footing with respect to medical evidence. …

[22] The object of placing the parties on an equal footing is, however, only achieved in real terms if the parties also adhere to those rules which govern the timely exchange of both initial expert reports and responsive expert reports.

[23] The important relationship of what was Rule 30 and what is now Rule 7-6(1) and those Rules which pertain to the time limits for the exchange of expert reports has been recognized in other decisions. In Wright v. Brauer, 2010 BCSC 1282, Savage J. said at para. 9:

In the context of an action seeking compensation for personal injuries, the parties are on equal footing with respect to medical evidence if they can independently obtain medical evidence and if such evidence is served in accordance with the Rules.

[24] In the case of Mackichan v. June and Takeshi, 2004 BCSC 1441, Master Groves, as he then was, said at para. 11:

… It is not simply a question of putting the parties on a level playing field at this stage, it is a question of really balancing the prejudice which will result to the defendants in not having a report and the prejudice that will result to the plaintiff in having a report prepared late which would no doubt, I expect, cause an adjournment of the trial.

[25] If the defendants have Dr. Gropper prepare a properly responsive report, and if that report is delivered in accordance with the Rules, the interests of both parties are concurrently advanced and safeguarded.

[26] I have, based on a request I made, been advised by counsel for the defendants that Dr. Gropper would be able to deliver his report in advance of the 42 days provided for in Rule 11-6(4).

[27] Notwithstanding some misgivings about some of the issues advanced by the defendants, I do not believe that it would be either prudent or appropriate for me to pre-determine that the specific concerns raised by the defendants will not, in fact, be properly responsive to the Reports.

[28] I have, however, earlier in these reasons, identified with some precision the very narrow issues that the defendants assert they wish to respond to in the Reports. These reasons should provide some safeguard against Dr. Gropper’s report extending or straying beyond its permitted ambit, whether inadvertently or otherwise. I note, as did Saunders J., as she then was, in Kroll v. Eli Lilly Canada Inc. (1995), 5 B.C.L.R. (3d) 7 at para. 7 (S.C.), that truly responsive evidence:

… does not permit fresh evidence to masquerade as an answer to the other side’s report.

[29] I am therefore prepared to grant the defendants’ application. Costs are to be in the cause.









Late Defence Medical Report Inadmissible For Going Beyond Responsive Evidence Exception


When the New Rules of Court were introduced last year changes were made to the timelines to exchange expert reports.  An 84 day deadline was set out in Rule 11-6(3) and a shorter 42 day deadline is set out in Rule 11-6(4) for “responding reports“.   The first reasons for judgement that I’m aware of were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing whether to admit a late report under the “responsive evidence” exception.
In today’s case (Crane v. Lee) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 motor vehicle collision.  The Defendant ran a stop sign and admitted fault for the crash.   The Plaintiff’s expert provided evidence that she suffered from soft tissue injuries and a herniated disc.  The Defendant obtained an expert report which contradicted this finding and served this report less than 84 days before trial.  The Defendant argued that the report was responsive and should be admitted.  Mr. Justice Smith disagreed finding the report went beyond the narrow circumstances permitted in Rule 11-6(4).  In excluding the report the Court provided the following reasons:



[21] At the opening of the trial, counsel for the plaintiff objected to and sought a ruling on the admissibility of a medical report that the defendant intended to rely upon.  The report had not been served within the 84 days required by Rule 11-6 (3) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, B.C. Reg. 168/2009.  Counsel for the defendant relied upon rule 11-6 (4), which reads:

(4)        Unless the court otherwise orders, if a party intends to tender an expert’s report at trial to respond to an expert witness whose report is served under subrule (3), the party must serve on every party of record, at least 42 days before the scheduled trial date,

(a)        the responding report, and

(b)        notice that the responding report is being served under this rule.

[22] Rule 11-6 (4) is intended to apply only to evidence that is truly responsive or in rebuttal to specific opinion evidence tendered by the opposite party.  It is not intended to provide defendants with a general exemption from the basic time limit for serving expert reports that is set out in Rule 11-6 (3).  Defendants who delay obtaining or serving expert evidence until after the plaintiff’s opinions have been received, then attempt to introduce all of their expert evidence as response, do so at their peril.

[23] In this case, I found that the report was not limited to true responsive evidence.  It stated the author’s opinion on the nature and cause of the plaintiff’s injury?the central issue that both sides had to address from the outset?and was based upon a review of all the medical records, including some not referred to by Dr. Field in his report.  As such, I considered it to be a free-standing medical opinion that ought to have been served pursuant to Rule 11-6 (3).  I ruled the report inadmissible, with the result that there was no expert evidence before me to contradict Dr. Field’s opinion.




The Court accepted the evidence from the Plaintiff’s expert and in assessing non-pecuniary damages of $100,000 Mr. Justice Smith provided the following reasons:
[33] On review of all the evidence, I find that the accident for which the defendant has admitted liability caused soft tissue injuries to the plaintiff’s neck and upper back, which eventually resolved, and a herniated disc in the lower back that continues to cause pain and limitation.  To the extent that the accident may have aggravated a pre-existing condition, I find that in the years immediately preceding the accident that condition was minimally symptomatic and there is no evidence that it would likely have become worse but for the accident.  I accept the uncontradicted evidence of Dr. Field that the plaintiff’s current pain is likely to be permanent…
[45] The injury the plaintiff suffered has had a significant impact on her enjoyment of life.  She has back pain on a daily basis, fluctuating according to her activities.  She has lost what was formerly a very active lifestyle, giving up some activities that she formerly enjoyed, while continuing some others on a reduced level, accepting the trade-off of increased pain.  The only medical evidence before me is that this condition is likely to be permanent. She also suffers severe anxiety while driving, particularly in situations similar to those that gave rise to the accident, although there is no evidence that this condition is necessarily permanent…
[49] Taking into account the effect of the plaintiff’s injuries on her lifestyle, the permanent nature of her pain and the psychological impact, including her driving anxiety, and considering the cases cited, I assess the plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $100,000.

Defence Expert's Evidence Rejected in Fibromyalgia Trial Based on "Advocacy"

As previously discussedexpert witnesses have a duty to be objective when giving their evidence and opinions in a BC Supreme Court trial.  Rule 11-2 specifically sets out that “In giving an opinion to the court, an expert appointed under this Part by one or more parties or by the court has a duty to assist the court and is not to be an advocate for any party.”
If experts fail to abide by this requirement they risk having their opinions rejected and further being criticized by the Court.  Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vernon Registry, highlighting such a result.
In last week’s case (Marchand v. Pederson) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2007 motor vehicle collision.  It was a rear-end collision and fault was admitted.  The trial focused on the value of the Plaintiff’s claim.
The Court heard competing expert witnesses with the Plaintiff’s physiatrist (Dr. Apel) providing evidence that the collision caused various injuries including fibromyalgia.
This opinion was contradicted by a physiatrist retained by the Defendant (Dr. Nowak) who provided an opinion that the collision played a lesser role in the Plaintiff’s symptoms.
Dr. Nowak’s opinion was largely rejected with the court placing little weight on it.  Non-pecuniary damages of $65,000 were awarded with the Court providing the following reasons in assessing damages and criticizing the defence expert:
[44] I find Dr. Nowak’s evidence to be problematic. He initially refuses to answer a question based on assumptions. It is clear that he is wrong in his reading of the intake report of Dr. Kinakin where he assumed that the pain was remaining constant. He is not accurate in the date of the last chiropractic treatment. I am of the view that Dr. Nowak is more of an advocate than an expert and I give very little weight to his evidence. I prefer the evidence of Dr. Apel when it comes to the diagnosis of fibromyalgia and the other conclusions reached by Dr. Apel. I am satisfied that the plaintiff may have improved somewhat from her last visit with Dr. Apel but I am satisfied that she continues to suffer a long term disability in respect to the fibromyalgia in the lower and upper back. I accept Ms. Phillips’ functional capacity evaluation and the limitations that the plaintiff has in respect to job opportunities because of her physical restrictions. I am also satisfied that the report of Dr. Wallace is fair and balanced and should be given a great deal of weight. I accept the plaintiff’s evidence that she stopped seeing her chiropractor, Dr. Kinakin, because she no longer had pain, but the chiropractor asked her to continue to see him because he was of the view that she had subluxation, which is poor posture so he was giving her treatment for that. She confirmed that she did not have any pain when she stopped seeing Dr. Kinakin. I accept her evidence….
[46] The function of non-pecuniary damages is to compensate the plaintiff for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life and loss of amenities. Taking into account the relatively young age of the plaintiff (she is now 24 years old), the chronic nature of her injuries, the severity and duration of her pain, her disabilities, her emotional suffering and loss of her social and marital life, I am of the view that a proper award would be in the amount of $65,000.

Prior Expert Reports, Cross-Examination and Notice


When a Plaintiff is cross examined in the trial of a personal injury claim can opinions from medico-legal reports from prior litigation be introduced into evidence without complying with the notice requirements set out in the Rules of Court?  Reasons for judgement were recently released by the BC Supreme Court addressing this issue.
In the recent case (Hosking v. Mahoney) the Plaintiff was injured in three separate motor vehicle collisions.  The first collision was in 2000, the second in 2001 and the third in 2004.
The Plaintiff advanced claims for compensation as a result of all three collisions.  In the course of the first two claims the Plaintiff’s physician authored a medico-legal report in 2003 addressing the extent of her injuries.  The Plaintiff settled both these claims prior to her third collision.
The claim arising from the third collision did not settle and proceeded to trial.  At trial the Defendant introduced the prior medico-legal report during cross examination.  The Court allowed this and further permitted the previous opinion to go into evidence even though the usual notice requirements for the introduction of opinion evidence were not complied with.  In permitting this evidence to be introduced Mr. Justice Warren provided the following reasons:
[171] I found the medical opinion of Dr. Gurdeep Parhar, the plaintiff’s attending physician for the first two accidents and the author of the medical/legal report of March 10, 2003, important and difficult to resolve with the evidence and submissions of the plaintiff that she had largely recovered prior to the February 2004 accident.  This evidence was entered by the defendant when cross-examining the plaintiff and was not rebutted or varied by Dr. Parhar who was not called to testify.  The court is entitled to draw an adverse inference when a witness who could provide relevant evidence on an issue before the court, is not called.  In my view the defendant was entitled to rely upon the letter and opinion of Dr. Parhar without providing the usual notice.  It was a report prepared for and at the request of the plaintiff and it was identified and portions adopted by the plaintiff in cross-examination.  The plaintiff had the opportunity to call Dr. Parhar or evidence to rebut the opinion or to object to its introduction prior to its use in cross-examination.

The Significant Role of Expert Evidence in Personal Injury Trials

When presenting a claim at trial dealing with future loss it is vital to have appropriate expert evidence to justify sought damages.  Failure to do so can result in a dismissal of the sought damages even if they are unopposed.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry highlighting the importance of medico-legal evidence in personal injury trials.
In this week’s case (Moore v. Briggs) the Plaintiff suffered a fractured skull (fractured left temporal bone) and a brain injury in a 2003 assault.

The Plaintiff sued those he claimed were responsible for the assault.  One of the Defendant’s did not respond to the lawsuit and the Plaintiff obtained default judgement against him.  The Plaintiff asked the Court to award substantial damages including an award for diminished earning capacity.  Despite the Plaintiff’s assessment of damages being unopposed the Plaintiff was only awarded a fraction of his claimed damages and he received nothing for future loss.
In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $40,000 and dismissing the claim for diminished earning capacity Madam Justice Dillon provided the following reasons:

[11] As a result of the assault, the plaintiff continues to have some problem with memory. This has improved over time such that it does not interfere with work or enjoyment of life, but still lingers. He also has difficulty with attention span and focus. He continues to have almost daily headaches. These often interrupt his sleep. He noticed that eye near the indentation in his temple was “lazy”, a couple of times a week at first and now hardly noticeable.

[12] For about four years after the assault, the plaintiff had problems with balance such that he could not walk a straight line and was dizzy when he looked down. He wanted to obtain employment as a greenhand on the log booms but did not consider that he could do the job. This would have increased his hourly pay to $24. Few details were provided about this job prospect. There was no medical evidence to support this inability and the plaintiff testified that any problems with balance had now resolved…

[17] Here, there is evidence of a small depressed comminuted fracture of the left temporal bone that resulted in some memory and motor impairment. From the testimony of the plaintiff, it appears that the motor impairment has resolved over time. There continue to be memory problems, the exact nature of which has not been assessed on a current basis. There are also some continuing headaches that are attributed to the fracture in 2003. The plaintiff lost about two months work and has successfully resumed his career and achieved advancement. His social life appears stable and normal. Any present loss of enjoyment of activities is because of lack of interest as opposed to ability…

[22] After consideration of these authorities and in consideration of the plaintiff’s description of his injury, and given the lack of medical information, non-pecuniary damages are assessed at $40,000…

[24] The plaintiff also claims loss of future earning capacity because of inability to obtain employment on the log booms. He calculated this amount based upon expectations of work life to age 65 at the remuneration rate that he said he would have received as a greenhand. This is contrary to the capital asset approach which has been adopted in this Court (Parypa v. Wickware, 1999 BCCA 88 at para. 63). However, the evidence on this aspect of the claim is scant and unsupported by any medical or actuarial evidence. Further, the plaintiff had successfully advanced in his work at present and said that this is his employment of choice. Further, there was no evidence that his employment aggravated his symptoms. The plaintiff must establish that there is a real and substantial possibility that his earning capacity has been impaired to some degree as a result of the injuries sustained in the assault (Romanchych v. Vallianatos, 2010 BCCA 20 at para. 10). In my view, there is little likelihood of any substantial possibility of an actual income loss in the circumstances here. There is nothing to suggest that the plaintiff will be unable to perform the tasks required in his work of choice. Nothing is awarded under this head of damage.

The New Rules of Court and the Prohibition of Expert Advocacy


While expert ‘advocacy‘ has always been prohibited, Rule 11-2 of the BC Supreme Court Civil Rules expressly imposes a duty on expert witnesses “to assist the court” and “not to be an advocate for any party“.  Experts need to specifically acknowledge that they are aware of this duty, author reports in compliance with this duty and testify in conformance with this duty.
Despite this expert advocacy still exists as was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released this week in the BC Supreme Court.
In this week’s case (Jampolsky v. Shattler) the Plaintiff was involved in 4 seperate collisions.  He sued for damages with his most serious allegation being a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  Ultimately the TBI claim was dismissed with Mr. Justice Harvey finding that the Plaintiff’s chronic complaints were more plausibly explained by factors other than brain trauma.  Prior to doing so, however, the Court made the following critical findings of the expert retained by ICBC in the course of defending the claims:

[251] Dr. Rees is a neurologist. Since approximately 2004 his practice has been largely comprised of examining persons with suspected brain injuries on behalf of defendants, principally ICBC.

[252] In that period Dr. Rees had not examined a litigant whom he found to have suffered an MTBI where the symptoms lasted beyond two years. He opined that the plaintiff had not sustained an MTBI in the first accident or any of those which followed in August 1999…

[257] Dr. Rees initially testified that a Tesla 1.5 MRI could provide imaging of an area as small as 100 neurons in the human brain. I am satisfied that Dr. Rees was in error in this regard. Although counsel suggested, and Dr. Rees ultimately adopted, 126,000,000 as being the smallest grouping of neurons visible on the Tesla 1.5, counsel subsequently advised the Court of his own mathematical error resulting in agreement that the actual number was 126,000. While the difference between these numbers is significant, it still appears that Dr. Rees was outside his area of expertise and was “guessing at the degree of resolution.

[258] Dr. Rees was also reluctant to acknowledge that brain trauma could occur without contact between the head and some other source. Although he acknowledged that an acceleration/deceleration injury could result in brain trauma, he confined such instances to situations where there as a concussive blast, such as that which was experienced by troops in Afghanistan when an I.E.D. exploded. He was resistant to the notion that an acceleration/deceleration injury of the type commonly seen in motor vehicles accidents could cause an MTBI

[259] A major difference in the opinion of Dr. Rees and Dr. Ancill is whether or not the plaintiff experienced a “credible event” which would account for brain trauma. During vigorous cross examination Dr. Rees acknowledged that he could not offer an opinion on the tensile strength of brain matter, and that an acceleration/deceleration impact could damage muscle tissue which he acknowledged is denser than brain matter.

[260] Dr. Janke, the other defence expert, and Dr. Ancill were both of the opinion that a force far less than that described by Dr. Rees could result in an MTBI.

[261] Dr. Rees accepted, without question, the veracity of the plaintiff when it came to maters related by the plaintiff which tended to negate or be neutral as to the existence of a brain injury, but questioned, without proper foundation, the plaintiff’s truthfulness if his answer to a particular question came into conflict with Dr. Rees’ rigidly held views as to the length of time the sequalae from MTBI could persist and the extent to which an MTBI could interfere with what he called core skills. He referred to the plaintiff’s response to queries regarding whether he had undergone any sleep studies for his reported apnea as “disingenuous.”…

[316] I place little or no reliance on the opinion of Dr. Rees. He assumed, for much of his testimony, the role of advocate as opposed to that of a disinterested and detached expert.

As recently discussed, the UK Supreme Court stripped expert witnesses of immunity exposing them to the threat of lawsuits for negligent services.  The law in BC currently does not permit this making judicial criticism the strongest remedy for experts who ignore the duties set out in the Rules of Court,

Joint Experts and the New Rules of Court


Can the BC Supreme Court order that parties use a joint expert in a personal injury trial against the wishes of one of the parties?  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this question.
In today’s case (Benedetti v. Breker) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2005 collision.  He was 17 at the time and allegedly sustained a brain injury with psychiatric consequences.  The Plaintiff brought an application asking that the Court order that Dr. O’Shaugnessy be appointed as a joint expert in the lawsuit.  The Defendant objected to having a joint expert.  Master Baker dismissed the motion and in doing so found that the Rules of Court do not permit a joint expert to be appointed over the objection of a party unless its done at a Case Planning Conference.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[11] Jointly appointed experts are not new to litigation in British Columbia.  In the family law context section 15 of the Family Relations Act has, for over 30 years, provided for the appointment of experts to investigate and prepare custody and access reports.  Realty appraisers are also often jointly appointed and instructed in family proceedings.  It is not all that unusual to encounter jointly-instructed experts in construction disputes.  But the new Rules clearly have brought greater focus and emphasis to the appointment of joint experts and invite the wider application of that process.

[12] Having said that, I agree with Mr. Nugent that this application does not follow the correct procedure for such an appointment.  He is correct in his analysis and that the only provision in the new Rules for the appointment of a joint expert over the wishes of one or both of the parties is in Rule 5-3(1)(k)(i), authorizing the presiding Judge or Master to order

that the expert evidence on any one or more issues be given by one jointly-instructed expert

Rule 11-3, he correctly argues, only permits the court to direct who that expert will be, or other terms ancillary to the appointment.  Rule 11-3 assumes that either the parties have agreed to the concept of a joint expert, or that the court has already ordered one in a CPC.  Neither of those assumptions apply in this case.

[13] It is not for me to theorize the reasons behind Rule 11-3’s current form, or why the only provision for the court, of its own volition, to appoint a joint expert is found in the CPC rule.  Suffice it to say and conclude that the Attorney General’s Rules Revision Committee’s purpose and the legislative intent was to separate the aspects of the appointment accordingly and to leave the court appointment process in the less formal CPC procedure.

[14] Even if the authority did lie in Rule 11-3, however, I agree further with Mr. Nugent that it would not be an appropriate order in this case.  This jurisdiction is blessed with a choice of numerous medical legal experts who could function as a joint expert in this matter.  By no means is Dr. O’Shaughnessy the only suitable choice as joint expert.  To appoint him, however, is to deprive the defence of a significant or potentially significant trial stratagem.  Wilson, C.J.S.C. in Milburn et al v. Phillips long ago described the purpose of an IME: “…to put the parties on a basis of equality” or, as it is commonly offered in chambers, to level the playing field.  The plaintiff has received treatment from at least two psychiatrists and has seen a neuropsychologist (par. 3, above).  The former were, to be sure, treating physicians, but it is not clear whether the latter was for treatment or for medical-legal consultation.  Given these facts, the defence should not be deprived of unilateral access to the one psychiatric expert that it chose and notified some 15 months before this application.

[15] The accompanying argument also has merit: should Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s conclusions not assist the defence, counsel can instruct him to not prepare a report.  In such an instance Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s objective observations, test results, or the like may well be discoverable but he would not be obliged to give or disclose his opinion to the plaintiff.  This is an important tool in the defence toolkit and should not be casually ignored.

[16] Finally, while proportionality is a laudable goal and should factor into all decisions under the Rules, in this case I doubt its applicability.  With five medical reports (privileged to date, recall) with the plaintiff, it seems unlikely that proportionality will be served by directing that a sixth, that of Dr. O’Shaughnessy, be a joint report.

[17] For these reasons the application is dismissed.

More on Responding Medical Reports and Physical Exams: Reconciling the Cases to Date


As previously discussed, a debate has arisen about if and when a Defendant is allowed to compel a Plaintiff to attend an ‘independent‘ medical exam in order to obtain a ‘responding‘ report under the BC Supreme Court Rules.  Very useful reasons were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing and reconciling the various authorities considering this issue to date.
In today’s case (Labrecque v. Tyler) the Plaintiff was involved in three separate collisions.  He sued for damages and all three claims were set for trial at the same time.   In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff obtained  a report from his GP and from a physiatrist.  The Plaintiff intended to rely on the physiatrist’s report at trial.  The Defendants intended to rely on the GP’s report at trial.  The Plaintiff never attended a defence medical exam in the course of the lawsuit and as the trial neared one of the Defendant’s brought an application to compel the Plaintiff to attend an examination in order to get a ‘responding’ report.
In support of the application the proposed examiner swore an affidavit explaining that he needs to ‘physically examine the plaintiff and ask him the questions a doctor would ask in order to elicit information upon which to ground my opinions‘.    The application was dismissed finding that this falls short of what is required in order for a physical exam to be ordered as part of a responding report.  In dismissing the application Master Bouck provided the following useful reasons reconciling the authorities addressing this issue to date:

[28] In Wright v. Bauer, the court recognized that Rule 11-6(4) “filled a lacuna” in the Rules governing civil procedure in this province: para. 12. Parties are now specifically governed by a Rule regarding delivery of responsive written expert evidence. Prior to this Rule’s enactment, the delivery of such evidence was governed by common law principles.

[29] In that case, the application for an independent medical examination was brought nearly one month before the defence would have been required to serve a responsive report.

[30] In dismissing the defendant’s application, the court found that the applicant had not met the necessary evidentiary threshold justifying an order under Rule 7-6: para. 21.

[31] The same result is found in Boudreau v. Logan and Crane v. Lee, supra.

[32] In contrast, the court in Luedecke v. Hillman was satisfied that an order should go requiring the plaintiff’s attendance at an examination…

[35] In my view, the principles enunciated in Luedecke and Wright are consistent and entirely reconcilable. The difference between the outcomes in these two cases lies in the facts.

[36] In both cases, the court concerned itself with the evidence presented to support the necessity of an examination as well as the question of prejudice.

[37] Here, the evidence from Dr. Piper as to the necessity for an examination is rather general in nature. Dr. Piper refers to the reports of both Dr. Grimwood and Dr. MacKean when in fact the responsive opinion would concern only the latter’s report. Unlike the evidence from the proposed examiner in Luedecke, Dr. Piper does not specifically identify the “medical evidence” (other than the reports themselves) that can only be addressed if a physical examination of the plaintiff occurs. Rather, Dr. Piper’s evidence suggests that an examination is necessary to respond generally to the subject matter of the plaintiff’s case and, as such, is no justification for the order sought: Luedecke at para. 52.

Expert Reports and the New Rules of Court: The "Factual Assumptions" Requirement


One of the requirements in the new BC Supreme Court Rules is for expert reports to clearly set out the “factual assumptions on which the opinion is based“.  Failure to do so could result in a report being excluded from evidence.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this requirement.
In this week’s case (Knight v. Li) the Plaintiff attempted to cross 41st Avenue in Vancouver, BC when his vehicle was T-boned by a the Defendant.  The Plaintiff had a stop sign and was the ‘servient driver’.  The Defendant was speeding.  Mr. Justice Harris found the Plaintiff 75% at fault for the crash and the Defendant 25% at fault.  The reasons for judgement are worth reviewing in full for the Court’s through discussion of the legal principles at play in intersection crashes.
In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff introduced an expert report from an engineer.  The Defendant objected to the report arguing that it did not comply with the rules of Court.  Mr. Justice Harris ultimately did allow the report into evidence but made the following critical comments addressing an experts need to clearly set out the factual assumptions underpinning their opinions:

[38]         Our new Supreme Court Civil Rules codify the obligations of experts testifying in our Court. In my view, they restate obligations our law has long recognised. The Civil Rules require a clear statement of the facts and assumptions on which a report is based. It was incumbent on Mr. Gough to state clearly the assumptions on which his report was based. He did not do so. He did not provide me with an opinion of the effect of Mr. Li’s excessive speed on his ability to avoid the collision as he claimed. He gave me an opinion of Mr. Li’s ability to avoid the collision if certain assumptions favourable to Mr. Knight were made. He said nothing about being instructed to make those assumptions and nothing about the effect on Mr. Li’s ability to avoid the Accident if those assumptions did not hold.

[39]         It must be remembered that Mr. Gough’s report is his evidence. In my view, the report as written did not comply with the requirements in the Civil Rules to state the facts and assumptions on which it is based. There is nothing improper in an expert accepting assumptions of fact that affect the opinions the expert provides, but they must be clearly stated. If they are not, there is a real risk that the trier of fact could be misled. In this case it required cross-examination to demonstrate the implications of the assumptions for the conclusions reached about Mr. Li’s ability to avoid the Accident. In my view, in this case, given the opinion being offered, the report should have clarified the effect of the assumptions about Mr. Knight’s driving on the conclusions about Mr. Li’s ability to avoid the Accident. By failing to do so, this aspect of the report descended into little more than a piece of advocacy.

More on The New Rules of Court, IME's and "Responding" Medical Reports


Precedents addressing whether an independent medical exam can be ordered to permit a Defendant to obtain a ‘responding‘ report are still being worked out by the BC Supreme Court.  (You can click here to read my archived posts addressing this topic) Reasons for judgement were released today by the BCSC, Victoria Registry, further addressing this issue.
In today’s case (Hamilton v. Demandre) the Plaintiff was involved in 2 separate motor vehicle collisions.  She claimed she was injured in the first and that those injuries were aggravated in the second crash.  Both lawsuits were set for trial at the same time.   One of the alleged injuries was “visual vestibular mismatch with associated dizziness, motion sickness, balance problems and double vision“.
The Plaintiff submitted to medical exams with a neurologist and an orthopaedic surgeon at the request of the Defendant in the first crash.  The Plaintiff also attended an examination with a psychiatrist at the request of the Defendant in the second crash.
In support of her claim, the Plaintiff served reports from various experts including an ENT specialist.    These reports were served in compliance with the time lines set out in the Rules of Court.  The Defendant in the second crash then asked that the Plaintiff attend a further exam with an ENT of their choosing.  The examination was to take place less than 84 days before trial.
The Defendant argued that this exam was necessary in order to obtain a ‘responding‘ report.  The Plaintiff opposed arguing a further exam was not necessary.  Master Bouck agreed with the Plaintiff and dismissed the application.  In doing so the Court provided the following useful reasons:

[33] In a nutshell, the defendant submits that an ENT examination is required to rebut the opinion that the plaintiff’s ocular vestibular problems have worsened as a result of the second accident.

[34] Dr. Longridge’s report predates the second accident; as such, it is not of assistance to the defendant’s argument. If anyone were to rely on this report to obtain a rebuttal examination, it would be the defendants in the First Action.

[35] In any event, the complaints of ocular vestibular problems are of longstanding. This is not a case of a new diagnosis or even a suggestion that a referral to such an ENT specialist is medically required. Dr. Ballard merely opines that a referral to such a specialist is a possibility if the plaintiff’s symptoms continue. Moreover, Dr. Moll, whose opinion was clearly available to the defendant for some time, discusses these symptoms in his report of January 21, 2009.

[36] As submitted by the plaintiff, the defendant chose to pursue a psychiatric, rather than ENT opinion, knowing that the ocular vestibular complaints formed a significant part of the plaintiff’s claim.

[37] As for the other opinions offered, the experts are in agreement that the plaintiff’s condition has worsened, but that treatment may yet alleviate or reduce those symptoms.

[38] The defence clearly has a theory:  the plaintiff is malingering and/or suffers a somatoform disorder. To have the plaintiff examined by an ENT specialist for an assessment that will either be diagnostic in nature and thus not true rebuttal; or merely to prove a negative, that is to confirm that there is no physiological cause for the balance and visual disturbances, would be inconsistent not only with the authorities cited to me, but also with the purposes of Rule 7?6 and 11?6 (4).

[39] On the material before me, I conclude that any report forthcoming from Dr. Bell would be fresh opinion evidence masquerading as answer to the plaintiff’s reports.

[40] In short, the defendant has failed to meet the necessary evidentiary threshold which might support an order for the examinations requested. The application is thus dismissed with costs in the cause.


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.

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