Leave For Appeal Denied in Computer Hard-drive Disclosure Case
In April of this year the BC Supreme Court ordered that a Plaintiff involved in a Brain Injury Claim from a BC Car Crash “produce for inspection by an independent expert a duplicate copy of his computer hard-drive and that the expert prepare a report identifying the number, nature, and time for all files relating to the use of the plaintiff’s Facebook account between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., dating from July 23, 2005 to the present.” (Click here to read my post summarizing the trial decision).
The Defendant in this case sought greater disclosure including “production of information (from the Plaintiff’s computer hard drive) regarding the number, nature and time of the information files that related to the Plaintiff’s Hotmail account and all other computer activity occurring between the hours of 11:00 pm and 5:00 am.” This application was dismissed by the Chambers Judge.
The Defendant asked the BC Court of Appeal permission to appeal this order arguing that such information would have been relevant in assessing the Plaintiff’s brain injury claim and that the Judge failed to turn his mind to the application properly.
The Court of Appeal refused to hear the appeal holding that the sought order was not supported by the evidence, specifically the Court of Appeal held as follows:
 At the plaintiff’s examination for discovery, he testified that he communicated with a friend on Facebook at night. He also testified that he does have a Hotmail account but he had not “checked it forever”. His mother testified that if anyone used the computer after 11:00 p.m. on weekdays, it would be the plaintiff (as opposed to other family members), and that he would probably be on the computer most nights.
 In the psychiatric assessment dated March 10, 2008, the plaintiff had apparently reported to his psychiatrist as follows:
[H]is sleep varies with the time one of his friends goes to bed. This is because he spends a lot of time on Facebook chatting with this friend.
 I conclude that this appeal is prima facie without merit. It is true that the chambers judge did not explain his reasons for dismissing that part of the application that is the subject of the appeal, but having reviewed the evidence that was before the chamber judge, it does not appear to me there was an evidentiary foundation for the request for the electronic records of his computer usage beyond Facebook. Any other usage, such as was suggested in the argument before me (that the plaintiff may be using gaming websites or other such websites late into the night), appears to be somewhat speculative.
 I dismiss the application for leave to appeal.
You can read the full judgement by clicking here (Bishop v. Minichiello)
Unfortunately the Court of Appeal did not highlight any factors which will be of use in considering when applications for computer hard drives will be meritorious in personal injury claims. With more and more information being stored on computers these days, however, such applications will become more frequent and it will only be a matter of time before the Court of Appeal has a chance to weigh in on this important issue.