Late Defence Medical Report Inadmissible For Going Beyond Responsive Evidence Exception


When the New Rules of Court were introduced last year changes were made to the timelines to exchange expert reports.  An 84 day deadline was set out in Rule 11-6(3) and a shorter 42 day deadline is set out in Rule 11-6(4) for “responding reports“.   The first reasons for judgement that I’m aware of were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing whether to admit a late report under the “responsive evidence” exception.
In today’s case (Crane v. Lee) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 motor vehicle collision.  The Defendant ran a stop sign and admitted fault for the crash.   The Plaintiff’s expert provided evidence that she suffered from soft tissue injuries and a herniated disc.  The Defendant obtained an expert report which contradicted this finding and served this report less than 84 days before trial.  The Defendant argued that the report was responsive and should be admitted.  Mr. Justice Smith disagreed finding the report went beyond the narrow circumstances permitted in Rule 11-6(4).  In excluding the report the Court provided the following reasons:



[21] At the opening of the trial, counsel for the plaintiff objected to and sought a ruling on the admissibility of a medical report that the defendant intended to rely upon.  The report had not been served within the 84 days required by Rule 11-6 (3) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, B.C. Reg. 168/2009.  Counsel for the defendant relied upon rule 11-6 (4), which reads:

(4)        Unless the court otherwise orders, if a party intends to tender an expert’s report at trial to respond to an expert witness whose report is served under subrule (3), the party must serve on every party of record, at least 42 days before the scheduled trial date,

(a)        the responding report, and

(b)        notice that the responding report is being served under this rule.

[22] Rule 11-6 (4) is intended to apply only to evidence that is truly responsive or in rebuttal to specific opinion evidence tendered by the opposite party.  It is not intended to provide defendants with a general exemption from the basic time limit for serving expert reports that is set out in Rule 11-6 (3).  Defendants who delay obtaining or serving expert evidence until after the plaintiff’s opinions have been received, then attempt to introduce all of their expert evidence as response, do so at their peril.

[23] In this case, I found that the report was not limited to true responsive evidence.  It stated the author’s opinion on the nature and cause of the plaintiff’s injury?the central issue that both sides had to address from the outset?and was based upon a review of all the medical records, including some not referred to by Dr. Field in his report.  As such, I considered it to be a free-standing medical opinion that ought to have been served pursuant to Rule 11-6 (3).  I ruled the report inadmissible, with the result that there was no expert evidence before me to contradict Dr. Field’s opinion.




The Court accepted the evidence from the Plaintiff’s expert and in assessing non-pecuniary damages of $100,000 Mr. Justice Smith provided the following reasons:
[33] On review of all the evidence, I find that the accident for which the defendant has admitted liability caused soft tissue injuries to the plaintiff’s neck and upper back, which eventually resolved, and a herniated disc in the lower back that continues to cause pain and limitation.  To the extent that the accident may have aggravated a pre-existing condition, I find that in the years immediately preceding the accident that condition was minimally symptomatic and there is no evidence that it would likely have become worse but for the accident.  I accept the uncontradicted evidence of Dr. Field that the plaintiff’s current pain is likely to be permanent…
[45] The injury the plaintiff suffered has had a significant impact on her enjoyment of life.  She has back pain on a daily basis, fluctuating according to her activities.  She has lost what was formerly a very active lifestyle, giving up some activities that she formerly enjoyed, while continuing some others on a reduced level, accepting the trade-off of increased pain.  The only medical evidence before me is that this condition is likely to be permanent. She also suffers severe anxiety while driving, particularly in situations similar to those that gave rise to the accident, although there is no evidence that this condition is necessarily permanent…
[49] Taking into account the effect of the plaintiff’s injuries on her lifestyle, the permanent nature of her pain and the psychological impact, including her driving anxiety, and considering the cases cited, I assess the plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $100,000.

bc injury law, Crane v. Lee, disc herniation, expert reports, Mr. Justice Smith, responsive evidence, Responsive Reports, Rule 11, Rule 11-6, Rule 11-6(3), Rule 11-6(4)

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ERIK
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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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