ICBC Tort Claims, Part 7 Benefits and Multiple "Independent" Medical Exams


As I’ve previously written, ICBC can typically arrange an ‘independent’ medical exam (IME) in one of two ways.  The first is when an ‘insured’ applies for first party no-fault benefits.  Section 99 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation gives ICBC the power to compel an IME in these circumstances.  The second is under Rule 7-6(1) of the BC Supreme Court rules which allows the court to order an independent exam to “level the playing field” in an injury lawsuit.
As a monopoly insurer ICBC often has one adjuster assigned to look after a person’s claim for no-fault benefits and at the same time look after the defendant’s interests in the Plaintiff’s tort claim.  Often times ICBC will obtain a no-fault benefits medical exam and then once a tort claim is launched seek a second exam with a different physician pursuant to the BC Supreme Court Rules.  Can ICBC do this?  The answer is sometimes yes but is highly factually dependent and reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with this area of law.
In today’s case (Imeri v. Janczukowski) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision in 2005.  The Plaintiff and Defendant were insured with ICBC.  The same ICBC adjuster was looking after the Plaintiff’s no-fault benefits claim and acting on behalf of the defendant in the tort claim.  ICBC sent the Plaintiff for an IME with an orthopaedic surgeon (Dr. Boyle) as part of the no-fault benefits application process.  In the course of the tort claim the Defendant then sought an order sending the Plaintiff for an IME with a different orthopaedic surgeon (Dr. McGraw).  The Plaintiff opposed this motion and argued that if ICBC is entitled to a second exam it should be with the the same doctor.  Master Shaw sided with the Plaintiff.  In doing so the Court provided the following useful reasons:

[17]        Rule 7-6(1), which is the new Rule 30, provides as follows:

Order for medical examination

(1) If the physical or mental condition of a person is in issue in an action, the court may order that the person submit to examination by a medical practitioner or other qualified person, and if the court makes an order under this subrule, the court may also make

(a) an order respecting any expenses connected with the examination, and

(b) an order that the result of the examination be put in writing and that copies be made available to interested parties of record.

[18]        In Stainer v. Plaza, 2001 BCCA 133, Finch J.A. (as he then was) said at para. 8:

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

[19]        Although the first question would be whether the defence needs an IME of an orthopaedic specialist to put the parties on an equal footing with respect to medical evidence, counsel for the plaintiff did not oppose the plaintiff attending a defence IME with an orthopaedic specialist as long as it was Dr. Boyle. The plaintiff agrees to go back to Dr. Boyle for the IME.

[20]        The plaintiff’s submission is that the plaintiff has already attended a first IME for tort purposes with Dr. Boyle and, if a further IME is appropriate, it should be a follow-up with the original expert for the defence.

[21]        In Rowe v. Kim, 2008 BCSC 1710, Master Keighley at para. 14 states:

A party seeking to have a second examination preformed by a practitioner practicing in the same speciality or discipline as a practitioner who has already examined a person faces an uphill battle: Hothi v. Grewal, [1993] 45 B.C.L.R. (3d) 394 (SC); Hamada v. Semple, [1983] B.C.J. No. 1307 (SC). Successful applicants are those who are able to demonstrate that something has happened since the first examination which could not have been foreseen or which could not, for some other reasons, have been addressed by the first examiner. It also seems to me that material filed in support of the application should indicate why a further examination by the doctor who performed the original assessment is not appropriate.

[22]        The evidence submitted in this matter does not set out why it would not be appropriate to send the plaintiff back to Dr. Boyle. There was no evidence why Dr. McGraw should be preferred over Dr. Boyle.

[23]        The plaintiff does not resist seeing Dr. Boyle. It is not necessary to find sufficient reasoning for the further examination by Dr. Boyle.

[24]        I find the February 28, 2006 report of Dr. Boyle contains opinion relevant to both the Part 7 claim and the tort claim. The defence has not provided any evidence to explain the opinion content in the report relevant to the tort claim, other than the statement of the adjuster in her letter to the plaintiff setting the appointment that the IME is for the Part 7 claim purposes. It is not known what the request or instructions to Dr. Boyle were. Based on the content of the resulting report, there is opinion relevant to the tort claim. I find the IME by Dr. Boyle on February 28, 2006 is a first examination by an orthopaedic specialist in the tort claim as well as for a Part 7 claim.

BC Supreme Court Rules Update: Withdrawing an Admission of Fault

Reasons for judgement were released today considering when a Defendant can withdraw an admission of fault in a personal injury lawsuit.
In today’s case (Surerus v Leroux) the Plaintiff was injured when he was struck by a vehicle operated by the Defendant.  He sued for damages and alleged the crash was the Defendant’s fault for a variety of reasons including that the Defendant drove a vehicle with defective brakes.  ICBC, the insurer for the Defendant, instructed the defence lawyer to admit fault.
In the course of the lawsuit the Defendant wished to withdraw the admission of fault.  The Defendant brought a motion asking the Court’s permission to do so.  Master Shaw dismissed the motion finding that the request was brought too late in the course of lawsuit.
The Court applied Rule 7-7(5) of the New BC Supreme Court Civil Rules (the rule dealing with withdrawing admissions).  This is the first case I’m aware of applying this rule however it’s worth noting that the rule’s language is almost identical to the old rule 31(5)(c) and the Court relies on precedents established under the old rule as being authoritative.  In dismissing the motion Master Shaw made the following comments:

[3]             Rule 7-7(5) reads as follows:

Withdrawal of admission

(5)  A party is not entitled to withdraw

(a) an admission made in response to a notice to admit,

(b) a deemed admission under subrule (2), or

(c) an admission made in a pleading, petition or response to petition

except by consent or with leave of the court.  …

[17]         This is not a case where the plaintiff’s pleadings set out a variety of allegations of possible negligence. The plaintiff made a specific allegation in his pleadings of poor mechanical condition and faulty brakes.

[18]         The defence says that there is an issue to be tried, and states that the defendant’s evidence will be that he had no prior knowledge of the brake issue before the accident.

[19]         In 374787 B.C. Ltd. v. Great West Management Corp., 2007 BCSC 582, Madam Justice Martinson states at para. 27:

27        As a general rule the Court must consider whether in the circumstances of the case the interests of justice justify the withdrawal of the admission. The following factors, which are not exhaustive are relevant: delay, loss of a trial date, a party is responsible for an erroneous admission, inadvertence in the making of the admission and estoppel. See Meisenholder v. Wikdahl, 2005 BCSC 630 and Hamilton v. Ahmed. A deemed admission can be withdrawn even where the failure to reply was deliberate: Linear S.R.L. c. CCC – Canadian Communications Consortium Inc. 2001 BCSC 682.

[20]         I am satisfied that the interests of justice do not justify the withdrawal of the deemed admission.

[21]         I have reviewed the factors set out by Madam Justice Martinson in 374787 B.C. Ltd. and affirmed by the Court of Appeal. This claim was filed October 6, 2008. It is almost four years since the date of the accident. There is a trial date scheduled for April 11, 2011. Discoveries have been conducted. The notice of motion was not filed until May 28, 2010, although the defence notified the plaintiff in September of 2009 that they were attempting to withdraw their admission of liability. I find that the delay of the defendant bringing this application, from the time of the accident to now, is a concern which cannot be overcome.

[22]         The trial date scheduled for April 11, 2011, is not imminent and, therefore, not necessarily at risk for losing the date.

[23]         There was no evidence put before this court with respect to the status of the vehicle. It is unknown if it is even available for inspection. The plaintiff specifically pleads in the statement of claim the condition of the brakes. That should have alerted the adjuster and defence. Even if the admission was inadvertent, there appears to be an element of simply not paying attention to the pleadings.

[24]         Withdrawing the admission at this late date would be prejudicial to the plaintiff. The plaintiff has acted to his detriment by relying on the admission.

[25]         I find that the interests of justice would not be served by allowing the withdrawal of the admission at this date.

[26]         In the result, I dismiss the application of the defendant. Costs will go to the plaintiff in any event of the cause.

Surveillance Evidence Excluded From Trial for Failure of Disclosure


(Note: The Decision discussed below was overturned by the BC Court of Appeal on August 25, 2011)
As I’ve previously written, the Rules of Court require parties to a BC Supreme Court Civil Lawsuit to disclose relevant documents to opposing parties.  Some documents are privileged and need not be exchanged but their existence needs to be disclosed and these documents need to be described “in a manner that, without revealing informaiton that is privileged, will enabel other parties to assess the validity of the claim of privilege“.  Failure to do so can result in exclusion of the documents from trial.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, discussing this area of law.
In today’s case (Houston v. Kine) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 motor vehicle collision.  The Defendant admitted responsibility for the crash.  The Plaintiff sustained various  injuries including a major depressive disorder, pain disorder, anxiety disorder and PTSD following the collision.  Madam Justice Gropper found that the collision was responsible for these injuries and assessed the Plaintiff’s damages at $525,000.
There was a 5 month break from the beginning of the trial to its conclusion.  During this break ICBC undertook surveillance of the Plaintiff over two periods of time.  The Defence lawyers, however, failed to disclose this evidence in compliance with the Rules of Court.  When they attempted to put the video into evidence the Plaintiff objected.  Madam Justice Gropper sided with the Plaintiff and held that the evidence should not be admitted.  In reaching this conclusion the Court provided the following helpful reasons:

[11] The burden on the party seeking to tender the undisclosed document is to establish to the Court’s satisfaction a reasonable explanation for the failure to disclose. As Henderson J. stated inCarol v. Gabriel (1997), 14 C.P.C. (4th) 376, 75 A.C.W.S. (3d) 858:

[9]        A party tendering a previously undisclosed document must establish to the court’s satisfaction a justification for the failure to abide by Rule 26(14). The question of whether the opposite party will be prejudiced by the admission of the document is always relevant but is not, in and of itself, decisive. Even in cases where no prejudice will ensue from the admission in evidence of the document, it will be excluded unless there is a reasonable justification for the earlier failure to disclose it. To hold otherwise would be to dilute the disclosure obligation and tempt counsel to refrain from disclosing in situations where they do not expect any prejudice to result.

[12] Here, the explanation for the failure to disclose is that the videos are not documents and they were never in the defendants’ possession or control. Rather, these videos and the accompanying reports fall clearly within the solicitor’s brief.

[13] The defendants’ position that it is sufficient that the videos and background materials were disclosed in March 2010, before the recommencement of the trial does not address the requirement of the Rule in 23(13) that the disclosure be “forthwith.” Not disclosing, as a matter of strategy, is not a satisfactory explanation to address the “forthwith” requirement.

[14] It is therefore my view that the videos have not been disclosed in accordance with R. 26(13) and I must therefore consider whether I ought to exercise my discretion to allow the Mexico video into evidence in accordance with R. 26(14).

[15] The factors to be considered are described by the Court of Appeal in Stone v. Ellerman, 2009 BCCA 294; 273 B.C.A.C. 126; [2009] 9 W.W.R. 385; 71 C.P.C. (6th) 25; 92 B.C.L.R. (4th) 203; 2009 CarswellBC 1633, at paras. 30 and 31. They are:

1.         prejudice to the party, in this case the plaintiff;

2.         whether there was a reasonable explanation for the other party’s failure to disclose;

3.         whether excluding the document would prevent a determination of the issue on the merits; and

4.         whether in the circumstances of the case the ends of justice require that the document be admitted.

[16] Addressing the prejudice to the plaintiff, it is difficult for me to assess the prejudice versus the probative value issue as I have not seen the videos and I have not reviewed the investigators’ notes of the video. I note in addressing this factor that there were hours of video recorded and the defendants’ counsel has provided a summary of what is contained in the videos. Based upon that, I am not satisfied that the videos are sufficiently probative to outweigh the prejudice to the plaintiff in allowing their admission having not been disclosed forthwith on a supplementary list of documents. This is despite the assertion that the plaintiff “lived” the events and that she would not be surprised by the contents. She has given evidence and called her medical and functional capacity experts. The late disclosure of the video evidence has impaired the ability of the plaintiff to meet the evidence.

[17] The admission of the videos and notes may require that she be recalled, or that she recall some of the experts. These days were added to the trial for its conclusion. The admission of the video evidence will necessarily extend the trial.

[18] In relation to the second factor, whether or not there was a reasonable explanation for the parties’ failure to disclose, I have already determined that strategy does not provide a reasonable explanation for lack of disclosure. Rule 26(13) requires that supplementary documents are to be disclosed forthwith and they were not.

[19] Concerning the third factor, whether the document would prevent the determination of the issue on the merits, I have heard evidence including the plaintiff’s evidence and the defendants’ evidence and expert evidence about the plaintiff’s activity and her level of disability. Based on the summary provided by counsel for the defendants of the contents of the video I cannot conclude that I will be prevented from determining the issue on the merits.

[20] Finally, I am not persuaded that the ends of justice require that videos be admitted.

[21] I therefore find that the videos are not admissible.

Interestingly, Madam Justice Gropper went even further and held that the witnesses who made the videos could not testify as to their observations of the Plaintiff as doing so would undermine the decision to exclude the video evidence.  The Court’s reasoning behind this decision could be found at paragraphs 22-28 of Appendix A to the Reasons for Judgement.

Withdrawing Deemed Admissions: Rule 7-7(5) Given First Judicial Consideration


Under both the old and the new BC Supreme Court Civil Rules parties to a lawsuit could ask the opposing side to make binding admissions through a “Notice to Admit”.  If the opposing side fails to respond to the Notice in the time lines required they are deemed to have made the sought admissions.  Once the admission is made it cannot be withdrawn except by consent of the parties or with the Court’s permission.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, considering when deemed admissions could be withdrawn under the New Rules.
In today’s case (Weiss v. Koenig) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 motor vehicle collision.  He claimed he sustained various injuries including bilateral hearing impairment.  In the course of the lawsuit ICBC asked the Plaintiff to make various admissions including an admission that his hearing was not affected as a result of the collision.  The Plaintiff failed to respond to the Notice to Admit in time thus was deemed to make the admissions.  The Plaintiff brought a motion to set these admissions aside and ICBC opposed.
Master Keighley granted the motion and set aside the admissions.  In doing so the Court noted that the admissions were made by inadvertence and that there was little prejudice to ICBC if these admissions were set aside.
This is the first decision I’m aware of applying Rule 7-7(5) of the new Rules of Court.  The Court noted that the new rule is almost identical as the old rule and implies that the precedents developed under the old Rule 31 remain good law.  Master Keighley set out and applied the following test in addressing the application:

Is there a triable issue which in the interests of justice should be resolved on the merits and not disposed of by deemed admission? In applying the test, all of the circumstances should be taken into account including:

1.         That the admission has been made inadvertently, hastily, or without knowledge of the facts.

2.         That the fact admitted was not within the knowledge of the party making the admission.

3.         That the fact admitted is not true.

4.         That the fact admitted is one of mixed fact and law.

5.         That the withdrawal of the admission would not prejudice a party.

6.         That there has been no delay in applying to withdraw the admission.

The New BC Supreme Court Rules and "Responsive" Expert Reports


Important reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, interpreting and applying Rule 11-6(4) for the first time.  This rule deals with “responsive” expert opinion evidence.
Under the old Rules of Court parties could call responsive expert evidence without notice provided the evidence was truly responsive.  The new rules of court changed this and require responsive expert reports to be served 42 days ahead of the scheduled trial.
In today’s case (Wright v. Bower) the Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle collision and alleged chronic back pain as a result of the crash.  Her lawyer served expert reports addressing these injuries in compliance with the time lines set out in the rules of court.  The Defendant brought a motion to compel the Plaintiff to attend an examination with an orthopaedic surgeon in order to obtain a ‘responsive’ report.  The Plaintiff opposed arguing that an examination was not necessary for the Defendant to obtain a truly responsive report.  Mr. Justice Savage agreed with the Plaintiff and dismissed the motion.  In doing so the Court provide the following useful reasons setting the parameters for responsive expert evidence:

[12]         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.

[13]         In Stainer, supra, the British Columbia Court of Appeal considered Rule 40A(3) and the scope of the Court’s discretion to admit responsive evidence.  At paragraphs 16-18, Finch J.A. said:

[16]      …The admission of expert evidence is now governed by Rule 40A(3)

An expert may give oral opinion evidence of a written statement if the opinion has been delivered to every party of record at least sixty days before the expert testifies.

[17]      That rule applies equally to all parties.  In the normal course, a defendant will wish to protect his right to adduce expert evidence at trial by giving the notice required by that rule.  But the court retains a discretion to admit responsive evidence of which notice has not been given:  Pedersen v. Degelder (1985), 62 B.C.L.R. 253 (B.C.S.C.); Kroll v. Eli Lilly Canada Inc. (1995), 5 B.C.L.R. (3d) 7 (S.C.); and Kelly v. Kelly (1995), 20 B.C.L.R. (3d) 232 (S.C.).  In the latter case Mr. Justice Williamson said:

I would restrict, of course, as courts I think must, the practice of having opinion evidence without notice strictly to truly responsive rebuttal evidence, and I think that if that rule is carefully observed, there should be no difficulties.

[18]      That is, in my respectful view, a correct statement of the proper practice. …

[15]         Amongst other things, the parties argued before me regarding whether the new Rules have substantively changed the practice which existed under Rule 40A.  They agreed that this is an important practice point, and a case of first impression.

[16]         Rule 40A gave the Court discretion to admit responsive evidence of which notice had not been given.  Rule 11-6(4) now provides that notice must be given of responsive expert evidence (although I note that the Court retains discretion to admit expert evidence of which sufficient notice has not been given).

[17]         I would expect that, in the ordinary course, an examination would be ordered under Rule 7-6(1) where a person’s medical condition was in issue in an action, provided it was requested in a timely way.

[18]         However, at this point in time in the action, the defendants are limited to what Mr. Justice Williamson referred to in Kelly, supra, as “truly responsive rebuttal evidence”.  The application must be considered in that light; the question on this application is not one of notice, but whether the Examination should be ordered to enable the defendant to file responsive evidence.  The authorizing Rule, 7-6(1) uses the term “may”.

[19]         In Kroll v. Eli Lilly Canada Inc. (1995), 5 B.C.L.R. (3d) 7, Sanders J., as she then was, noted that “true response evidence, does not permit fresh opinion evidence to masquerade as answer to the other side’s reports”.

[20]         In C.N. Railway v. H.M.T.Q. in Right of Canada, 2002 BCSC 1669, Henderson J. considered the admissability of “reply reports” holding that only the portions of the reports that provided a critical analysis of the methodology of the opposing expert were admissible as responsive evidence.  The portions of the reports describing the authors’ own opinions on the matters in issue were not admitted.

[21]         In this case, the defendants do not explain why an examination is required in these circumstances, other than a statement by a legal assistant that counsel says such is “necessary to properly defend this action and to respond to the reports of Dr. Weckworth and Dr. O’Connor”.  Master McCallum in White v. Gait, 2003 BCSC 2023 declined to order an examination where it had not been shown why such was required to produce a responsive report.

[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).  In the circumstances, the application is dismissed.  The plaintiff is entitled to costs of the application.

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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