Late Applications for Defence Medical Exams in ICBC Injury Claims


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court considering the issue of timing of applications for compelled medical exams in the context of an ICBC Injury Claim.
Under the current BC Supreme Court Rules expert evidence that is not ‘responsive‘ is required to be served on opposing parties 60 days before it is tendered into evidence.  This requirement is set out in Rule 40A.  (As of July 1, 2010 a new set of BC Supreme Court Rules will come into force and Rule 11 will govern the admissibility of reports which makes some changes to timelines for exchange of expert evidence).
When a Defendant comes to court asking for a compelled exam BC Courts have considered the issue of timing and if the application is inside the timelines for service of a report the Defendant may have an uphill battle.  Reasons for judgement were released today demonstrating this.
In today’s case (Moore v. Hind) the Plaintiff was injured in 2 motor vehicle collisions.  Both trials were set to be heard together.  ICBC brought an application to compel the Plaintiff to be assessed by Dr. Ray Baker, a doctor who specializes in so-called ‘addiction medicine‘.  This application was brought late in the litigation process.  ICBC argued that the medical evidence served by the Plaintiff’s lawyer gave a “clear and emphatic indication that the plaintiff may suffer a drug addiction problem” and as a result the need for the late application.
The Plaintiff disagreed arguing that ICBC could have pursued this line of inquiry earlier in the process.  Master Keighley agreed with the Plaintiff and dismissed the motion.  In doing so the Court placed weight on the late timing of this application and this proved fatal to ICBC’s argument.  Specifically the Court stated as follows:

[10] This application raises certain practical difficulties.  One is the question of whether a further examination and the likely preparation of a report at this time will jeopardize the existing trial date.  There is certainly very little time left now between the date of this application and the trial.  It is unlikely that the plaintiff would have sufficient opportunity to in any way rebut the findings in a report prepared by Dr. Baker.  It seems to me there is a substantial likelihood that should the order sought be granted, an application may be made to adjourn the trial.

[11] It also seems to me that this application is unnecessarily brought at a late date.  There was, to my mind, a significant indication of overuse or misuse of prescription drugs as early as a year ago, and arrangements might then have been made in a more orderly fashion to have an examination by Dr. Baker or another, with respect to these issues.

[12] Having read portions of Dr. Smith’s report, it seems to me, however, that the third parties may well be afforded an opportunity to yet achieve a level playing field by having their own expert, Dr. Smith, consider the reports, the clinical records and other information relating to the claim with regard to assessing the issue of the plaintiff’s prescription drug use and its impact potentially upon her claim.

[13] In this regard it seems to me that the prejudice to be suffered by the third party in not having an opportunity to have a further assessment is minimized, whereas the potential prejudice to the plaintiff is substantial.  She is depicted in the medical reports as being a highly tense, anxious individual, and it would seem, and indeed she suggests that she will be extremely prejudiced if this claim is not resolved at the earliest possible date.  There is also an issue of inconvenience which is of a relatively minor nature, in that she has another medical examination scheduled for the morning of the proposed examination and would be obliged to cancel that if ordered by the court to attend for an appointment with Dr. Baker.  She also then had made plans to visit with her mother in the Christmas holidays, beginning on the night of December 22nd.  Those issues of inconvenience are of a relatively minor nature and would not be conclusive in themselves.

[14] I am satisfied that the application should be dismissed.  It is simply brought at too late a date and it is likely that it will result in an adjournment of this trial, which the material before me indicates, if adjourned, would likely not be rescheduled until perhaps June of 2011.

More on BC Injury Claims and Multiple Defence Medical Exams


Further to my recent post on this topic it is well settled that the BC Supreme Court can order that a Plaintiff undergo multiple defence medical exams in a Personal Injury Claim depending on the circumstances of any particular case.
There are some limitations on this and one such restriction relates to having the same injury reassessed when nothing has changed since an initial defence examination.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, demonstrating this.
In this week’s case (Bidgood v. Kostman) the Plaintiff was involved in a personal injury lawsuit.   The Plaintiff consented to being examined by an orthopaedic surgeon at the request of the Defendant.  This surgeon provided a report commenting on the Plaintiff’s injuries.   As the lawsuit progressed the Plaintiff exchanged the medical reports that she wished to rely on to the Defendants as required by the Rules of Court.  These reports commented on the Plaintiff’s chronic myofascial pain.  This prompted the Defence to seek a second medical exam, this time with a physiatrist.  The Plaintiff did not consent to this and a Court motion was brought to compel attendance.
The Defence argued that they needed the additional exam to assess the allegation of chronic myofascial pain.    Master McCallum of the BC Supreme Court rejected the motion finding that the Defendant had a proper opportunity to assess this alleged injury when they had their first defence medical exam.  Specifically Master McCallum noted the following:



[7] The authorities are clear, and there is no real dispute between counsel here. The court can order any number of reports by nominees of a party, but in this case, in order to have an additional report on this issue of myofascial or soft tissue pain, there has to be some evidence that something has changed. There is no such evidence. The diagnosis and findings of Dr. Wahl in his report are remarkably similar to the reports that he had when he saw the plaintiff. They are remarkably similar to the reports that have been delivered later, and particularly Filbey’s report. It is clear that nothing has changed in the plaintiff’s symptomology. There is no suggestion here that Dr. Wahl made a comment that she should be seen by someone else as he was unable to make findings of fact with respect to what was troubling her or could not make a diagnosis. None of that is found in Wahl’s report. It is simply the case that the defendants now wish to have the matching specialist, as Lofgren says in her affidavit, because the defendants believe that Dr. Wahl’s report may somehow not stand up to Dr. Filbey’s report.  There is no evidence of that. There is no evidence that an orthopedic surgeon could not make findings in the way he did. There is no evidence that Dr. Filbey is somehow better off to report on the findings that he made. That is simply not the case.

[8] The plaintiff may be right when she says that the defendants have an expert whose report does not favour the defendants’ case particularly, and that a further report may aid them more than Dr. Wahl’s report. This is not a case where the defendants are in a position of inequality or the defendants are prejudiced by whatever the plaintiff has done in the time between Dr. Wahl’s report and the 40A deadline. None of that occurred. The prejudice will occur if the examination by Dr. Hirsch, the further report, goes ahead because that will be, as the plaintiff says, fresh evidence on this issue to which they will feel obliged to respond. If the defendants want a rebuttal report, then the defendants are entitled to obtain one. They do not need to have the plaintiff examined to accomplish that.

[9] The application for the examination by Hirsch is dismissed. In the circumstances ?? we do not have a liability problem here, do we, so the plaintiff will get her costs in any event.

As readers of this blog know the BC Supreme Court Rules are being overhauled in July 2010.  The Court will continue to have the power to order multiple medical exams in particular circumstances but one thing that will change is that the concept of ‘proportionality’ will be introduced into the analysis.  It will be interesting to see how this principle affects the law of multiple defence medical exams in ICBC and other BC Personal Injury Litigation.

Defence Medical Exams – BCSC More Than Just A "Rubber Stamp"


As readers of this blog know when people sue for damages in the BC Supreme Court as a result of an Injury Claim they give up certain privacy rights.  Documents need to be disclosed to opposing counsel, examinations for discovery can be compelled, even ‘independent‘ medical exams can be ordered.
In the course of an Injury Claim Rule 30 of the BC Supreme Court Rules permits a Court to order that a Plaintiff undergo a Defence Medical Exam(DME) in order to “level the playing field“.   It is generally accepted that at least one DME will be ordered by the Court if requested in a typical personal injury claim.  Such an order, however, is not an automatic right and reasons for judgement were released today demonstrating this.
In today’s case (Chapman v. Magee) the Plaintiff was injured in “a reasonably nasty motor vehicle accident involving…a car and a motorcycle“.  The Injuries included a flailed chest and a broken ankle.
The Defence lawyer asked that the Plaintiff attend a defence medical exam with a respirologist and an orthopaedic surgeon.   The Plaintiff’s lawyer did not consent and a court motion was brought to compel attendance.  Master Caldwell dismissed the application finding that the materials in support were “significantly wanting“.    The Court noted that while the evidentiary burden on these applications is not high the Court is not a ‘rubber stamp‘ and some evidence needs to be tendered.  Specifically Master Caldwell stated:

There is nothing in the material where counsel opines as to the need for these reports or these examinations to be done, which, as I see the case authority, and in particular, Astels, para. 23, where the court says:

In addition to the paralegal’s affidavit, there was also in evidence a letter from counsel for the defendants to counsel for the plaintiff concerning the proposed medical examination in which counsel for the defendant said:

You will be asking the court to retrospectively decide whether or not the plaintiff was totally disabled the date the action was commenced.  Clearly medical opinion in that regard is relevant.

[5] He is opining there as counsel as to the importance and purpose of the Rule 30 examinations.  In my view, that sets out a bare minimum, and I do not want to be overly technical because it may or may not be efficient to go on that basis, but in my view there is not a scintilla of evidence here from counsel or otherwise as to the use that this information would be put to.  I can certainly speculate and it would appear from the pleadings that I could speculate as to what use it might be made, but far and away from what the minimum level is, it would be nice on these applications to have letters or some kind of material from a doctor opining as to why they need to see the person.  That certainly goes beyond what would be needed, but in my view, Astels puts down a bare minimum.

[6] And as I say, I may be being overly technical, but I do not think so.  These are not rubber-stamp applications and they cannot become rubber-stamp applications.  There must be some substance relating to what this information is going to be used for and what the focus is going to be.  And, frankly, having gone over the lunch hour and again read the letters, I can find no such supporting evidence in the material filed by the defendant.

[7] On that basis, this application for today by the defendants is dismissed.  It is dismissed without prejudice to their right to re-bring the application on proper material because I think there may be something out there and I think Rule 1(5) does say “on the merits” and it should not be just simply a technical slam-dunk there.  But the application on the basis of the material before me has to be dismissed in my respectful view.  It has to be dismissed on the basis that costs will be to the plaintiff in any event of the cause on this because the material brought by the defence simply is not adequate.  The issue of costs in subsequent application, should the defence seek to bring such an application, can be dealt with by the court that hears that application.

As with all civil procedure cases I will cross reference this with the New BC Supreme Court Civil Rules.  Rule 30 is replaced with Rule 7-6 and the wording is almost identical under the new rules making precedents such as this one useful under the soon to be in place new system.

More on Medical Records, Document Production and Privilege in ICBC Injury Claims

Useful reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court dealing with the records that need to be disclosed to opposing counsel following an Independent Medico-Legal Exam.
In today’s case (Gulamani v. Chandra) the Plaintiff was involved in 2 motor vehicle accidents approximately one decade apart. In the course of the lawsuits she attended various medico-legal appointments at the request of the Defence Lawyers under Rule 30 of the BC Supreme Court Rules.
Following these the Plaintiff’s lawyer brought an application that  these doctors deliver “copies of their examining notes or any other recording generated by or on behalf of the said doctors that record any history given to them by the plaintiff on the examination, and any notes that record the doctor’s observations or findings on physical examination together with copies of any tests, questionnaires, or other documents completed by or on behalf of the plaintiff including scoring documents prepared by the examiner“.
The Defence lawyers opposed this motion and argued that the sought materials “constitute the doctors’ working papers and underlying materials that are privileged and part of the solicitor’s brief until the doctor testifies in court, at which point the privilege is waived. ”
Madam Justice Arnold-Bailey rejected the defence position and noted that “solicitor’s brief privilege can be trumped when it comes to the bare facts” and that “there is no property in a witness of fact”.  In ordering production of the sought records the Court extensively canvassed the law in this area and summarized its position as follows:

[24]         Stainer and Traynor clearly indicate that any notes, annotations, recordings, or working papers that reveal an examining doctor’s confidential opinion or advice to counsel will, generally, be privileged.  Even things as small as question marks or exclamation marks added to raw test data could fall into this category and would potentially need to be redacted:Traynor, at para. 21.

[25]         However, the cases also illustrate that notes or recordings that capture the factual history given by the plaintiff to an examining doctor, as well as raw test data and results, are outside the scope of solicitor-client privilege and are subject to production.  I agree with the conclusion reached by the learned master in McLeod as one that follows these basic principles and extends them to circumstances outside the scope of a Rule 30 order. General principles are indeed just that – general principles – and not principles that are only to be applied in making a Rule 30 order or only to be applied when such an order is made.  As Master Caldwell opined in McLeod, the timing of the request for disclosure and whether a court order triggered the examination are factors which do not override the application of Rule 1(5) and the court’s role to “secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every proceeding on its merits”.  I share this view.

[26]         I do not disagree with the submission by counsel for the Chandra defendants, in line with S. & K. Processors and Vancouver Community College, that an expert’s working papers remain privileged until that expert takes the witness stand.  As I understand the jurisprudence, however, there is a clear distinction between an expert’s working papers, which contain opinions, or which may be prepared for the sole purpose of advising counsel, and the facts underlying those opinions or advice.  In the case at bar, the plaintiff is not asking for the type of documents that were at issue in those cases, and those cases reaffirm that the factual material the plaintiff seeks is indeed subject to production.

[27]         The Sutherland case is perhaps, at first blush, most problematic for the plaintiff, in that it appears to imply that the only factual material requiring disclosure will be that which is not already adequately set out in the written statement accompanying the expert report (in the context of Rule 40A).  As I have indicated above, however, upon further analysis I do not believe the case stands for this point.  The court in Sutherland could not find that giving notice under Rule 40A meant that everything underlying the report was suddenly subject to production before the witness took the stand, because a pre-existing privilege existed over the documents, and was not entirely waived simply by virtue of giving notice under Rule 40A.  The court therefore only ordered production of the raw data from among the requested general “rubric of clinical records” – material that was clearly factual in nature and did not involve opinion or advice.

[28]         On that note, the question that may remain after reviewing many of these cases is whether, prior to notice being given under Rule 40A, there is any privilege over the examining doctors’ materials, specifically over anything factual in nature reported by the client and not involving opinion or advice.

[29]         I am of the view that this is not so in the circumstances of the case at bar.  The passages from Stainer cited above reaffirm that even the solicitors’ brief privilege can be trumped when it comes to the bare facts, since it is well settled that “there can be no property in a witness of fact”.  Further, regardless of the way any of the cases cited in these reasons unfolded, including applications under Rule 30, outside of Rule 30, under Rule 26, pursuant to Rule 40A, and under s. 11 of the Evidence Act, and both before a report has been put into evidence and before a report has even been created, I fail to see any examples where a court has declined to order production of the factual underpinnings of an expert’s report, as reported by the plaintiff and recorded in notes, annotations and test data.

[30]         The facts of the present matter are also such that it is the plaintiff who has applied for the information in question, and it was of course the plaintiff herself who provided that information and raw data to the doctors in question.  Further, as I appreciate the circumstances of the present application, it is the non-party doctors who have the information in their hands, and not counsel for the Chandra defendants, who presumably have not been privy to the underpinnings of the reports.  As such, I fail to see how, in these circumstances, there is any doctor-client privilege or solicitor-client privilege to assert, or any strong argument to be made about non-party rights in the context of Rule 26(11)…

[36] In conclusion on this issue, I therefore order that the defendants and Doctors Hawkins, Hepburn, Weeks, Magrega, and Munro deliver to the solicitor for the plaintiff copies of their examining notes or any other recording generated by or on behalf of said doctors that records any history given to them by the plaintiff on the examination and any notes that record the doctor’s observations or findings on physical examination together with copies of any tests, questionnaires, or other documents completed by or on behalf of the plaintiff, including scoring documents prepared by the examiner, except any documents containing the doctors’ opinions or advice, within 14 days of the pronouncement of this order.

In addition to the above, the Plaintiff’s lawyer also brought a motion for production of records documenting the extent of MSP Billings that one of the Defence Doctor’s had with respect to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. In partially granting this order Madam Justice Arnold-Bailey held as follows with respect to the relevance of such a request:

[44] I agree with plaintiff’s counsel’s that the expertise of Dr. Munro is an issue, albeit ancillary, to this matter and that the information has been properly sought pursuant to Rule 26(11).  The information sought is relevant because, to use the wording in Peruvian Guano, it may allow the requesting party to damage the case of its adversary.  After all, to properly cross-examine Dr. Munro on his qualifications at trial will require counsel to be prepared with the relevant information to be able to do so, and as I understand it, acquiring the information at that later stage would interrupt the trial given the time it takes to receive it from Health Services.  To be clear, I find that Dr. Munro’s opinion and expertise is important as it relates to the plaintiff’s injury claims, particularly because it conflicts with the opinion of another medical expert.

Can You Record an "Independent Medical Exam" In an ICBC Injury Claim?

When ICBC sends you to an ‘independent’ medical exam for the purposes of litigation in the BC Supreme Court are you permitted to record the examination?
This issue was dealt with by the BC Court of Appeal in a 2006 decision (Wong v. Wong) in which the Court held that BC Courts do have the authority to permit audio recording as part of an order for an independent medical exam but that this discretion should be exercises sparingly.  Specifically the BC Court of Appeal said the following about the courts ability to permit audio recording as a term of an independent medical exam:

[44]           One would think that if the tape recording of a medical or psychiatric examination was thought likely to enhance the quality of such an examination, the medical profession would long since have adopted the use of audio tapes as a general practice.  The material before us shows that use of an audio tape recorder is not only not considered to be an advantage, but rather can be an impediment to a proper, independent examination.  Dr. Smith says that use of an audio tape recorder will alter the nature of a psychiatric exam, and may make the examinee reluctant to answer some questions.  These observations have the ring of simple common sense.  In fact, hundreds if not thousands of psychiatric examinations of both infant and adult plaintiffs have been conducted in this province under Rule 30, or its predecessors, without any suggestion that they might have been of better quality if tape recorded.

[45]           It may well be that the recollection of a plaintiff as to what was said on an examination will differ from the doctor’s notes or recollection.  As Brooke J.A. observes, “the rules proceed on the basis that there may be some disparity” in recollections.  But these differences can be tested in the usual way, as they have been for years.  As in the Bellamy case “… there is no suggestion on the record that any injustice has occurred.”

[46]           It was argued before us that an audio tape recording would provide the “best evidence” at trial of what was said in the examination, in the event of a conflict between the examinee and the doctor, and that the courts should endorse the use of technologies available to provide the best evidence.  The oral history and other information provided by the person being examined is often an important part of the foundation on which the examiner’s opinion is based.  However, any advantage to be gained by tape recording the interview must be weighed against the extent to which it would impede or impair a full and proper examination.  Absent unusual circumstances, I am not persuaded that the presumed advantage would outweigh the disadvantages.

[47]           Apart from any impairment of the examination itself, there are other concerns related to the audio taping of medical examinations.  No matter how good the technology, there will be failures.  A tape recording will no doubt be transcribed and there will be issues before and at trial over the transcription.  The transcript will add an unwarranted level of importance to the oral portion of examination, and another layer of adversarial complexity to the trial process.  None of these difficulties need be encountered.

[48]           While I am of the view that a master or judge has a discretion under Rule 30 to permit the use by a plaintiff of an audio tape recorder on an independent medical examination, it is in my opinion a discretion that should be exercised rarely and with restraint, and only in circumstances where there is cogent evidence that the use of an audio tape recording will advance the interests of justice.

Today, reasons for judgement were released by the BC Supreme Court further dealing with this issue.  In today’s case (Kelly v. Sanmugathas) the Defendants sought to have a plaintiff examined by a psychiatrist.  The Plaintiff wished to have the examination recorded.  In permitting the recording Master Donaldson summarized and applied the law as follows:

[2] A number of authorities were cited specifically referring to Dr. Davis.  The decision of the Court of Appeal in Wong stands for the current state of law in British Columbia, namely, that if there is to be a recording it would be only in very limited situations.  Counsel on behalf of the plaintiff referred me to a number of decisions where it was concluded that Dr. Davis was an advocate for the defence and matters of that nature.  Those decisions do not concern me in this instance and do not lead me any closer to reaching the conclusion that the plaintiff should be able to record her visit with Dr. Davis.  What does give me concern are two references, Sinclair, Mr. Justice Hood in 2002, and McGowan, a 1992 decision of Madison, J. in the Yukon, both of which make reference to mistakes having been made.  Fraser, J. in the Edmonds case where he stated: “if [sic] mistakes, likely they were those of Dr. Davis”.  In the McGowan decision, Mr. Justice Madison stated “his opinion was thus based on an erroneous view of the facts.”

[3] Clearly it will be easy enough for a judge in this action to conclude how he or she should assess the opinion of Dr. Davis, but of concern to me, is whether or not Dr. Davis takes an accurate history.  Clearly the recollection of the plaintiff as to the history taken and the reliance on clinical records and the like, will assist the court in determining whether or not Dr. Davis in fact has misapprehension of the facts or he in fact was accurate so far as the facts given are concerned.

[4] I have concluded that recording is the least invasive way of ensuring that Ms. Kelly’s recollection of the facts which have been elicited from her and Dr. Davis’ recollection of the facts elicited from her are accurate.  Her evidence, by way of affidavit, interestingly enough, seems to indicate, if you will, self generated concern about Dr. Davis once she had discussions with her counsel about Dr. Davis.  It is also interesting to note that apparently her concerns only arose after she was ill and could not attend the 28 of May medical examination which had been arranged with Dr. Davis.

[5] Notwithstanding this state of affairs, I am satisfied there should be a recording.  It will be a dual recording:  one tape will be given to Dr. Davis and the other can be retained by Ms. Kelly.

ICBC Claims and Multiple 'Independent Medical Exams'

As I’ve previously posted, 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 30 of the BC Supreme Court rules which allows the court to order an independent exam to level the playing field.
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 such a fact pattern.
In today’s case (Deacon v. Howe) the Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle collision.  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. Pisesky) 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 physiatrist.  The Plaintiff opposed this motion.  Master Taylor, in dismissing the motion, discussed and applied the law as follows:

[15] The issues I have to determine are:

(1) whether the report of Dr. Pisesky is a report pursuant to Part 7, or whether it is a first IME report based upon the extent and content of the report; and

(2) If the report of Dr. Pisesky is considered a first IME, would the defendants be entitled to seek a further examination pursuant to Rule 30(2).

[16] Madam Justice Dillon considered these very issues in Robertson v. Grist, 2006 BCSC 1245.  In relation to the first issue, she said this at paragraph 14:

Whether the Part 7 examination constitutes a first independent medical examination depends upon the scope of the examination, given the rest of the circumstances here.  There was no limitation on Dr. Jaworski’s examination and the request letter covered matters that would solely be relevant to a tort action.  The doctor’s report was not limited to a rehabilitation opinion about whether the injuries sustained in the accident totally disabled the plaintiff from work within 20 days of the accident and for a period of 104 weeks or less, the criteria in section 80 of the Part 7 benefits Regulations. The examination was a first independent medical examination within the meaning of Rule 30.

[17] There is evidence that this particular claims adjuster was acting in both the Part 7 and tort claim.  At the time of the examination of the plaintiff by Dr. Pisesky on July 16, 2006 the plaintiff was represented by counsel and the writ and statement of claim had been issued and served on ICBC.  Accordingly, I have formed the opinion, following upon the analysis of Dillon, J. that the report of Dr. Pisesky is a first report based on the nature and content of the report.

[18] In relation to whether the defendants would be entitled to a further examination pursuant to Rule 30(2), Dillon, J. said this at paragraph 15:

Should a second independent medical examination be ordered?  The test for a second opinion was recently re-stated by Master Hyslop in Shaw v. Koch (2004), 4 C.P.C. (6th) 271, 2004 BCSC 634 at para. 25 [Shaw], from the decision in Jackson v. Miller, [1999] B.C.J. No. 2751 at para. 12 (S.C.) (QL) [Jackson], to the effect that a second opinion on the same matter cannot be obtained unless something has occurred since the first examination which was not foreseeable or for which could not have been addressed by the examiner on the first occasion.  The defendant has conceded that there are no grounds to justify a second examination. In these circumstances, the second independent medical examination by an overlapping specialty doctor should not be ordered.

[19] In the instant case, the defendants, as earlier indicated, contend that they are entitled to have an IME from a physiatrist in order to put the parties on an equal footing.  The defendants’ argument is that if the plaintiff has the opinion of two physiatrists then the defendants should be entitled to an IME by a physiatrist in order to put the parties on an equal footing.  As well, the defendants have successfully sought an order to have the plaintiff examined by Dr. Solomon, a psychiatrist.  That examination occurred on May 14, 2009.

[20] In Guglielmucci the defendant provided an opinion from a psychiatrist as to the necessity of an IME by a psychiatrist.  In the case at bar no such opinion has been provided for the benefit of the court and no evidence has been provided that there has been a change in the plaintiff’s condition since Dr. Pisesky’s last medical report.  The affidavit of a paralegal was provided by the defendants in which the deponent says at paragraphs 9 and 13:

[9] The plaintiff had attended the IME with Dr. Pisesky at the request of the then handling adjuster, David Burdett, which was arranged under Part 7 of the Regulations with respect to the plaintiff’s application for Part 7 benefits, and prior to defence counsel being retained on or about July 10, 2006.

[13] I have been advised by John Hemmerling, and verily believe to be true, that Dr. Coghlan is his referred choice of medical examiner to conduct an IME of the plaintiff in the tort action due to his expertise in the field of physiatry and the thoroughness of his assessments and his willingness and ability to read and interpret the medical information sent to him in order to form a reasoned opinion for the court and that this IME is required to assess the opinions of Dr. le Nobel and Dr. Vallentyne.

[21] I am of the view that the affidavit of this deponent is of no assistance to the application of the defendants.  As was said by the court in Haleta v. Jehn and Others, 2008 BCSC 1522, “there is nothing new here that has arisen that would give the plaintiff an unfair advantage over the defendant.”

[22] Dr. Pisesky’s report of July 16, 2006 was thorough.  It addressed issues far beyond a basic Part 7 report.  In my view there is no need for a physiatrist to examine the plaintiff, especially in view of the plaintiff’s agreement to be seen and assessed once again by Dr. Pisesky.  Accordingly, the defendants’ application for an IME by Dr. Coghlin is dismissed.

[23] The plaintiff shall have her costs of this application.

ICBC Injury Claims, Medical Exams and Access to Information

When advancing an ICBC Injury Claim ICBC can typically arrange an ‘independent medical exam’ to assess your injuries.   This is usually done either through the power given to ICBC under the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation or pursuant to Rule 30 of the Supreme Court Rules.
When ICBC sends you to a doctor for an ‘indpendent’ examination the physician usually takes notes and often authors a report summarizing his/her opinion of collision related injuries.  Normally ICBC Injury Claims Lawyers negotiate the terms of these examinations to permit their client to have access to the medical examiners notes.
What if these terms are not discussed prior to the exam, are you entitled to have access to the notes that ICBC’s doctor generates as a result of the visit or can ICBC claim litigation privilege over these notes?
Reasons for judgement were released today (McLeod v. Doorn) dealing with this issue.  In today’s case ICBC arranged to have the Plaintiff examined by a physician.   The Plaintiff did not negotiate what access she would have to the physicians records when she agreed to this assessment.  After the exam the Plaintiff sought access to the doctor’s clinical records and ICBC refused to provide these on the basis that the notes were protected by litigation privilege.
The Plaintiff brought an application in Court to be granted access to these records and in granting the application Master Caldwell summarized and applied the law as follows:

[4] I have considered counsel’s submissions extensively; however, I am consistently drawn back to paras. 12 and 13 of the reasons of Finch J.A. (as he then was) in Stainer v. Plaza, [2001] B.C.J. No. 4:

In my respectful opinion this condition is too broadly expressed.  Some reports prepared by or for a doctor performing an independent medical examination may not be protected by a solicitor’s brief privilege.  Ever since Milburn v. Phillips (1963), 44 W.W.R. 637 (B.C.S.C.) our courts have recognized that statements made by a plaintiff to a doctor conducting an independent medical examination under compulsion of court order may be ordered to be communicated to the plaintiff’s solicitor.  And, insofar as the examining doctor makes observations or findings on physical examination, he becomes to that extent a potential witness as to matters of fact.  That there can be no property in a witness of fact is well settled: Harmony Shipping Co. S.A. v. Davis.[1979] 3 All ER (C.A.).

It therefore appears to me to be within the proper exercise of the discretion afforded under Rule 30 to impose, as a condition of ordering an independent medical examination, delivery up to a plaintiff of the examining doctor’s notes that record any history given to him by the plaintiff on the examination, and any notes that record the doctor’s observations or findings on physical examination.  It would not usually, however, be fair to go further, and to require the defendant or third party to disclose any documents prepared by the doctor which contain his confidential opinions or advice to the lawyer who requested the examination, whether for the purposes of trial preparation, cross-examination at trial, or otherwise.

[5] Defence counsel points out that there was no order made under Rule 30 and, therefore, this reasoning does not apply; however, because the plaintiff agreed to go without an order, she is stuck.  I fail to see how that can be correct.  Rule 1(5) states that the object of the Rules is to “secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every proceeding on its merits”.  Requiring a court order in the circumstances of this case hardly fits with such intention.

[6] I am of the view that the notes that record any history given to Dr. Piper and Mr. Kerr by the plaintiff at the examinations and any notes of those two professionals which record their observations or finding on physical examination, including raw test data, are to be produced to plaintiff’s counsel in the manner outlined in para. 4 of the proposed order.

More on ICBC Injury Claims and Independent Medical Exams

Ok, second post of the day on this topic.
Typically ICBC (on behalf of their insured defendant) are able to send a Plaintiff to an Independent Medical Exam in the course of a BC Supreme Court lawsuit in order to level the playing field.  In certain cases they are entitled to more than one exam.
Reasons for judgement were released today (Norsworthy v. Greene) dismissing a defence applicaiton for a second examination in an ICBC Injury Claim.
In this case the Plaintiff obtained several medico-legal reports including the report of a physical medicine specialist and a Functional Capacity Evaluation.  ICBC had the Plaintiff examined by Dr. Schweigel.  Dr. Schweigel provided the opinion that the Plaintiff had soft tissue injuries and that she “could have been off work for roughly 3 months.  After that she should have been able to return to work in a graduated fashion.  Within five to six months, she should have been able to return to full time work.  This lady is not disabled now from all the activities she was doing prior to the two MVA’s“.
The Plaintiff’s experts disagreed and provided opinion that her injuries were more severe and disabling that opined by Dr. Schweigel.  ICBC applied for a second ‘independent’ exam on the basis that they should be entitled to reply to the Functional Capacity Evaluation opinion obtained by the Plaintiff.  In rejecting the applicaiton Master Caldwell of the BC Supreme Court gave the following summary of the law regarding requests for multiple Independent Medical Exams:

[22] It should be obvious to any reader of these two reports that each was prepared by two persons with two completely different disciplines and approaches; yet there was a noticeable crossover in some of the observations made by each of them.

[23] In Christopherson v. Krahn, 2002 BCSC 1356, Madam Justice Smith made the observations at para. 9 that the test of reasonable equality does not mean that for each specialist relied upon by the plaintiff, the defendant is entitled to an IME from a similar specialist.  Smith J. went on to deal with this proposition when she quoted from Henry v. Derbyshire, [1997] B.C.J. No. 1750, a decision of Master Nitikman where, at para. 13, the master stated:

A third applicable principle is that the party seeking the examination is not limited to one independent examination but

The court will not order a second examination merely to permit the defendant to get a second opinion on the same matter.  [She went on to say] A second examination may be appropriate where there is some question which could not have been dealt with on the first examination.  The applicant must show a reason why it is necessary for the second examination.

[24] I take the view that in the case at bar the defendants are seeking a second examination pursuant to Rule 30(2).

[25] The IME sought by Dr. Schweigel was conducted after the defendants had knowledge of the earlier functional capacity evaluation of the plaintiff by an occupational therapist retained by the plaintiff, yet the defendants chose to have an IME conducted by an orthopedic surgeon.  That opinion seems to be firm.  Now the defendants seek an opinion of an occupational therapist which may undermine the opinion of Dr. Schweigel, their own expert.

[26] Respectfully, in my view, although the defendants point to the different purposes of the reports, I do not believe that those differences alone provide a valid reason for a second report pursuant to Rule 30(2).

[27] Accordingly, I dismiss the defendants’ application and award the plaintiff her costs for preparation for and attendance at the hearing of this matter.

ICBC Injury Claims and Late Independent Medical Exams

When advancing an Injury Claim in the BC Supreme Court the Defendant’s are entitled to send the injured plaintiff to an independent medical exam or exams in order to ‘level the playing field’.
If a litigant wishes to rely on expert evidence addressing injuries Rule 40A of the BC Supreme Court Rules sets out the timelines for disclosure of such evidence to the opposing side.  Sometimes, ICBC defence lawyers apply for multiple independent medical exams and sometimes these applications are brought late into the pre-trial process such that any report generated will not comply with the timelines of Rule 40A.
Reasons for judgement were released today (Critchley v. McDiarmid) by Mr. Justice Burnyeat of the BC Supreme Court clarifying the law as it relates to late applications for independent medical exams.  In today’s case the court ordered that the Plaintiff see a psychiatrist even though the scheduled appointment was to take place outside of the timelines required by Rule 40A.  In reaching this decision the court summarized the relevant legal principles as follows:

[16] In Stainer v. Plaza (2001), 87 B.C.L.R. (3d) 182 (B.C.C.A.) Finch, J.A., as he then was, stated on behalf of the Court that the purpose of Rule 30 was:

This Court has repeatedly said that the purpose of Rule 30 is to put the parties on an equal footing with respect to medical evidence.  What steps are necessary to achieve that end is a matter of discretion for the chambers judge to assess in the circumstances of each case.

[17] Subsequent decisions have established  the following general principles: (a) the timing of the request for the independent medical examination is a relevant consideration in that a late request by a defendant may create a prejudice to the plaintiff by placing the plaintiff in a situation where he or she is either unable to respond to the proposed examination or is forced to seek an adjournment of the trial; (b) an inability to respond to a proposed examination constitutes prejudice to a plaintiff; (c) and an adjournment of a trial constitutes prejudice to a plaintiff.

[18] I am of the view that the exercise that was before the Learned Master was as set out by Master Groves, as he then was, in Mackichan v. June and Takeshi, [2004] B.C.J. (Q.L.) No. 2296 (B.C.S.C.):

The argument for a late medical examination is really a complication, or better put, an extension of the Stainer v. Plaza reasoning in that, I believe, the court must consider fairness between the parties and a balancing of prejudice when a request for a late medical examination is made.  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 accept, cause an adjournment of the trial.

(at para. 11)

[19] While I am satisfied that the question of whether an independent medical examination raises a question vital to the final issue including the quantum of damages so that it is appropriate that there be a re-hearing of the matters which were before the Learned Master, the submission made on behalf of Mr. Critchley was that this was a purely interlocutory matter and that the Court on a review would have to find that the Learned Master was clearly wrong.

[20] On the assumption that the appeal must be heard on that basis, I have come to the conclusion that the Learned Master was clearly wrong in reaching his decision.  First, I cannot be satisfied that the Learned Master considered whether or not the proposed independent medical examination was required to put the Defendant on equal footing with the Plaintiff.  Nowhere in his Reasons does the Learned Master make this finding or give full consideration to this question.

[21] The Learned Master also fell into error by requiring the Plaintiff to establish with near certainty that the Trial would be adjourned.  By using the phrases “would be adjourned”, “why an adjournment would be inevitable”, “it is not automatic that the trial will be adjourned”, and “I have no evidence to conclude that there would be an adjournment ….”, the Learned Master was in error.  The Learned Master pointed out in his Reasons that which is obvious – the question of whether an opinion produced after an independent medical examination will result in an application for an adjournment can only be answered after an expert opinion is tendered under Rule 40A of the Rules of Court.  Here, it may well be that there is no need for the Plaintiff to arrange for an expert opinion to counter what might appear in the expert opinion flowing from the independent medical examination requested.  Accordingly, it is never correct to require a party to show that an adjournment would be “inevitable”.

[22] The nature of the findings in an opinion after an independent medical examination, the timing of the receipt of it, and the proximity of the likely receipt of it in relation to the date set for the Trial are factors which must be taken into account but whether or not an adjournment will be inevitable is not a factor which need be shown.  The question of whether an adjournment may be required is merely one of the factors which should be considered.  However, it is not the sole factor to be considered on the question of whether the independent medical examination should be ordered.

[23] I am also satisfied that the Learned Master erred by taking into account an earlier examination date which Mr. Critchley was not able to attend and by concluding that, had this earlier examination taken place, there would have been no prejudice to the Plaintiff.  I am satisfied that the Learned Master should only have given consideration to the proposed date of the examination and not an earlier date.

[24] In the circumstances, I can conclude that the Learned Master was clearly wrong and that the Order made should be set aside.

Medical Exams and ICBC Tort and No-Fault Claims

As many of you know ICBC is a Provincial auto insurer which enjoys certain statutory monopoly privileges in British Columbia.  Since ICBC insures almost every BC motorist when a crash happens there is a good chance ICBC represents both drivers.  When the faultless driver is injured and sues typically one adjuster is assigned to deal with his/her claim for ‘no-fault’ benefits under their own policy of insurance and that same adjuster is assigned to defend the tort claim (the claim for damages including pain and suffering) made against the offending driver.
This potential conflict of interest can create various problems.  One of which often comes up is the right of the ‘defendant’ (who is insured by ICBC) to obtain an independent medical exam in defence of the tort claim in circumstances where the ICBC adjuster already sent the Plaintiff to an independent medical exam in the process of reviewing the Plaintiff’s application for no-fault benefits.
Reasons for judgement were released today dealing with exactly such a problem.
Here the Plaintiff was allegedly injured in a 2005 motor vehicle collision.  He applied to ICBC for no-fault benefits under his own policy of insurance and also sued the other motorist in tort.  The other motorist was also insured with ICBC.  One adjuster was assigned to handle both claims.
That ICBC adjuster sent the plaintiff to be assessed with an orthopaedic surgeon.  That surgeon wrote a report .  The defence lawyer in the ICBC tort claim then applied to court for an order to send the Plaintiff to a different physician claiming that the first report was set up to review the Plaintiff’s claim for no-fault benefits and that the defendant was entitled to a report from a doctor of his own choosing to level the playing field.
Here, the court dismissed the Defendant’s application finding that when ICBC sent the Plaintiff to the first orthopaedic surgeon it may have been to assess the claim for no-fault benefits but the ICBC adjuster asked the doctor to comment on things that went beyond the scope of such an application.  The court concluded that the Defendant can ask the same doctor to comment on the Plaintiff’s condition if necessary but they were not entitled to a new doctor’s opinion in the circumstances.
The Court’s key analysis is found at paragraphs 13-15 which I reproduce below:

[13] It appears in the instant case that Ms. Dyrland was handling both the Part 7 and the tort claims arising out of the alleged accident.  Although she deposes that her intention was that the assessment by Dr. Bishop was for the purposes of the Part 7 claim only, her instructions to him suggest a wider scope.  In the case of Longva v. Phan, [2007] B.C.J. No. 1035, 2007 BCSC 690, Master Bolton considered instructions identical to those set out at paragraph 7 of these reasons.  He noted that, however specific or equivocal the adjuster’s requests might have been, a request for a “history” of the accident, recommendations concerning future treatments and surgery and, in particular, a request for comment on a contributory negligence (seat belt) issue, must be considered as solely referable to the plaintiff’s tort claim and not merely concerned with issues relating to a claim for disability benefits.  Thus, while the adjuster may have expressed her intention to limit the assessment to the Part 7 claim, the nature of her instructions suggests that she expected a report which would address not only the plaintiff’s current needs for treatment and rehabilitation but, as well, his prospects for recovery and other issues unrelated to the disability claim.  I have reached the same conclusion. The assessment prepared by Dr. Bishop on December 22, 2005 was a “first” examination. Having reached that conclusion, I must now consider whether the circumstances justify a “second” examination.

[14] 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.

[15] In the circumstances of this case, there appears to be no good reason why Dr. Bishop could not be asked to comment on the relevance of the disk herniation noted in January 2006, and, if necessary, perform a further examination of the plaintiff.

The concern many Plaintiff’s ICBC injury claims lawyers have in cases where one ICBC adjuster is assigned to both the Plaintiff’s and Defenant’s claims is that of ‘report stacking’.  That is there is a concern amongst some ICBC injury lawyers that ICBC may use their position as insurer for both parties to get more ‘independent’ reports than a Defendant may otherwise be entitled to.  In deciding whether to consent to an application by a defendant insured with ICBC to a further examination it is important to review the factors discussed in this useful judgement.

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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