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Defence Psychiatrist Rejected for Basing Opinion on "Facts That Are Wrong"

In my continued effort to highlight judicial scrutiny of expert witnesses, reason for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Kamloops Registry, rejecting an expert psychiatric opinion.
In last week’s case (Moritz v. Schmitz) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 collision.  She was 17 years old at the tine and “was a healthy teenager“.  The collision caused chronic soft tissue injuries along with a worsening of pre-existing psychological difficulties.  The Court awarded $80,000 for the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages.
In the course of trial the Defendant called a psychiatrist who provided an opinion that the collision was not the cause of the Plaintiff’s aggravated pscyhological difficulties.  In rejecting this opinion Madam Justice Gropper provided the following critical comments:
[70]         Dr. Solomons goes on to suggest that, in his opinion, it is “most likely that the course of her psychiatric difficulties after the accident was related to stressors unrelated to the accident”, referring to matters that occurred prior to the motor vehicle accident. He then concludes that the plaintiff would have experienced the same symptoms even if the accident had not occurred. Again, Dr. Solomons does not provide a foundation for his opinion that the problems Ms. Mortiz faced before the accident are of greater significance than those she faced because of the accident. He was aware that the plaintiff suffered from physical injuries but he does not turn his mind to whether those injuries may have affected her psychiatric functioning.
[71]         Dr. Solomons does not explain his emphasis on pre-accident events. This same observation in respect of Dr. Solomon’s emphasis on pre-accident events was made by Mr. Justice Willcock in Jokhadar v. Dehkhodaei, 2010 BCSC 1643 at para 135:
Further, there is no reason, in my view, to regard stressors other than the car accident as more compelling or predominant. Dr. Solomons, in reaching that conclusion, ignored clear evidence of the significance of the accident.
[72]         I also note that Dr. Solomons’ final paragraph under the “Opinion” section of his report is based on “facts” that are wrong. He says Ms. Moritz was “psychiatrically disabled before the accident and was not working at the time of the accident.” He fails to note that she was 17 years old and in grade 12 at the time of the accident. She was not psychiatrically disabled from working. He says that “[s]he had no psychiatric requirement for time off work as a result of the accident since she was already on long term psychiatric disability … .” Again, she was not off work because of her psychiatric disability before the accident; nor was she on long-term psychiatric disability. In all of the circumstances, I am unable to accept Dr. Solomons’ opinion.

bc injury law, Madam Justice Gropper, Mortiz v. Schmitz