Injury Claim With 30 Expert Reports Deemed "Too Complex" For Jury Trial


Reasons for judgement were recently published by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry  striking a jury notice in a complex personal injury claim.
In the recent case (Campbell v. McDougall) the Plaintiff was involved in two collisions, the first in 2006, the second in 2008.  The trials were set to be heard together with ICBC seeking trial by jury.  The Plaintiff brought an application to strike the jury notices arguing the claims were too complex for a jury.  Mr. Justice Gaul agreed and provided the following reasons:
[14]         The plaintiff has served approximately 20 expert reports authored by 16 different experts. In reply, the defendants have served 10 expert reports prepared by seven experts. Combined, these reports amount to approximately 700 pages. The jury is therefore facing the prospect of examining, considering, digesting, and retaining information from approximately 30 reports authored by 23 experts. The range of expert evidence is as broad as it is long, and it includes: general medicine, physiatry, psychiatry, neuropsychology, psychology, anaesthesiology, neurology, plastic surgery, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, forensic engineering and economic actuarial analysis.
[15]         In addition to these expert reports, there are also over 1,200 pages of clinical records relating to the plaintiff’s condition and treatment. Many of these records will be used in cross-examination of the plaintiff and consequently the jury will need to be instructed on the proper use of such records…
[32]         In my opinion, the number of expert reports involved in this litigation, the varying opinions contained in those reports, the medical terms and principles referenced in the reports, and the plaintiff’s unique educational and professional background combine to make this case a significantly complex one…
[37]         I find that the issues that will be addressed at the joint trial of these matters will require the trier of fact to engage in a prolonged examination of documents, as well as a scientific investigation. I also find that the issues in dispute between the parties are of an intricate or complex nature.
[38]         I have reviewed and considered the authorities Ms. Stevens has submitted where juries have addressed complex issues in personal injury cases, as well as other types of claims, over the course of long trials. Having done so and having regard to the principles articulated in Nichols, it is my considered opinion that the examination and investigation in the present case cannot be made conveniently with a jury. Moreover, given the intricate and complex nature of the issues in dispute, in my view this case is not one that is suitable for trial with a jury.
[39]         The plaintiff’s applications are granted. The jury notices in both cases are struck out. The joint trial of these matters will therefore take place before a Supreme Court justice sitting without a jury.

bc injury law, Campbell v. McDougall, Mr. Justice Gaul, Rul, Rule 12, Rule 12-6, Rule 12-6(5)

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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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