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.
 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.
 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.
 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.