ICBC Psychiatrist Criticized for Not Being "An Impartial Expert"

In my continued efforts to archive judicial critisism of expert witnesses who cross the line into ‘advocacy’, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, finding a psychiatrist retained by ICBC failed to provided evidence with “the sufficient degree of objectivity“.
In this week’s case (Drodge v. Kozek) the Plaintiff was involved in 2006 collision.  He suffered chronic pain and cognitive dysfunction following the crash.   ICBC retained a psychiatrist who authored a report and provided opinion evidence to the court which, in contrast to the Plaintiff’s treating doctor, placed less emphasis on role of the collision with respect to the Plaintiff’s complaints.
The Court found that this psychiatrist was not sufficiently objective and placed ‘little weight‘ in his opinion.  Madam Justice Dardi provided the following criticism:

[49] Dr. Solomons is a qualified psychiatrist who at the request of ICBC examined Mr. Drodge on July 9, 2009, and prepared a report dated August 2, 2009. At trial I ordered that certain contents of his report be expurgated, on the basis that the statements were not properly admissible opinion evidence.

[50] Dr. Solomons opined that Mr. Drodge did not sustain any functional brain injury as a result of the accident; nor did he develop any psychiatric condition or disorder as a result of the accident. It is Dr. Solomans’ view that the pre-conditions for the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder were not met in this case. Rather, in his opinion Mr. Drodge presented with non-specific stress symptoms that potentially related to a number of causes, including physical pain, unemployment, financial constraints, and boredom. Other than some stress associated with his financial difficulties, he opined that Mr. Drodge’s present psychological status is “essentially normal”. Insofar as a prognosis, Dr. Solomans opined that there are no cognitive or psychiatric concerns, and that Mr. Drodge has no psychiatric or neuro-cognitive impediments for any vocational activities.

[51] In cross-examination Dr. Solomans admitted that a person could suffer from cognitive symptoms as a consequence of severe headaches. He agreed that headaches of this nature could affect someone’s mood and their ability to work, and that the headaches could therefore be disabling.

[52] Although Dr. Solomons maintained that Mr. Drodge did not exhibit any cognitive difficulties during his interview, the evidence supports a finding to the contrary. In cross-examination he acknowledged that his notes from the interview indicate as follows:

Not had cognitive tests. Then he says did. Query name. Not remember when. About 18 months to two years ago. Not remember the feedback about the test results.

Not recall anything about it at all, not even why he was treated.

Moreover, Mr. Drodge had mistakenly told him he had sustained his back injury in 1986; his back injury occurred in 1996.

[53] In my view, Dr. Solomons was not an impartial expert providing a balanced discussion on Mr. Drodge’s condition. Overall, I found his evidence lacking the sufficient degree of objectivity to be of any real assistance. In the result I have accorded his opinion little weight.

Advocacy in the Guise of Opinion, bc injury law, benchslap, Dr. Solomons, Drodge v. Kozek, Madam Justice Dardi

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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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