From Medical Marijuana to Surveillance and More

As readers of this blog know, I often extract one point of interest when creating case summaries and when more than one point is noteworthy I create multiple point specific posts.  I do this because it makes it easier to search archived posts by case specific topics.
Reasons for judgement were released this week with so many nuggets it would be too burdensome to address them each individually so please excuse the multi point summary.   In short this judgement showcases video surveillance successfully attacking a claim, credibility findings, comments on self-serving medical appointments, claimed care costs for medical marijuana and other points of interest.  The entire judgement is worth a read.
In this week’s case (Datoc v. Raj) the Plaintiff was involved in an intersection t-bone collision.  Both motorists claimed they had a green light which simply could not be true.   The Court found that despite credibility problems with the Plaintiff his account of the collision appeared more reliable and the Defendant was found fully at fault.  The Plaintiff  claimed damages of over $450,000.  The Court rejected most of these claimed damages and in doing so illustrated the following points:
Video Surveillance Successfully Used
Video evidence was presented which documented inconsistent presentations of the Plaintiff in court versus out of court.  Mr. Justice Sigurdson provided the following comments in finding the plaintiff was “significantly exaggerating” his claims:
[103]     I was shown video surveillance evidence of the plaintiff taken over a number of days in the months shortly before the trial.  These videos showed the plaintiff getting in and out of his car, driving his car and taking photographs as a real estate photographer.  This included squatting, and holding a tripod above his head to take pictures.  He moved fluidly, in and out of the driver’s seat, apparently without discomfort.  He and his counsel acknowledge a dramatic difference between his presentation on the video and his presentation in court.  The plaintiff explains the difference by saying that he is capable of doing what he does on the surveillance video only because of medical marijuana he takes in the morning and at the end of the day.  However, the plaintiff introduced no medical expert report to support this contention, only his evidence that this was the effect on him of his taking medical marijuana.  I did not find persuasive his evidence that marijuana would have the dramatic and persisting effect that he asserts.  The video surveillance showed him during different times of the day, not simply in the morning (shortly after he would have ingested a marijuana cookie), but into the afternoon as well, and his condition appeared to be no different no matter what the time of day.
[104]     Generally, surveillance evidence can be relatively unhelpful to assess the condition of plaintiffs as to whether they are performing activities without pain, or whether their ability to perform activities is because of use of pain medication, or stoicism, or other factors.  However, the difference in this case between the manner in which the plaintiff presented himself in court and how he was shown on the surveillance video was dramatic.  I did not find the plaintiff’s explanation persuasive that the dramatic difference was from his taking marijuana while working, and not taking it while in court…
[106]     I have concluded, based on a consideration of all of the evidence, that the plaintiff is significantly exaggerating the extent of his injuries.
Medical Marijuana
The Plaintiff claimed damages of $20,000 for the cost of medical marijuana.  While damages for medical marijuana are not unprecedented in British Columbia, a common analysis involves a plaintiff’s recreational interest in marijuana.  The defendant pursued such an analysis with apparent success.  In rejecting these claimed damages the Court provided the following analysis:
[60]         On cross-examination, the plaintiff was asked about his posting on the internet under the name Nismo200sx in light of his comment that he had only taken marijuana once or twice before.  Although those postings suggested an interest in marijuana beyond simply as a treatment for his back pain, the plaintiff denied any recreational interest in marijuana…
[112]     The plaintiff said that prior to his prescription for medical marijuana, he tried marijuana once or twice, but he did not care for it.  However, there is evidence to suggest the plaintiff’s interest in marijuana is more than purely for medical treatment purposes.  His internet postings suggest that.  Given my concerns about the reliability of the plaintiff’s evidence, and in the absence of expert evidence, I am not persuaded that medical marijuana is required by the plaintiff to treat his injuries…
[120]     The plaintiff seeks future care costs for medical marijuana of $200 per month or $2,400 a year for a suggested award of $20,000.  The evidence does not support the claim that medical marijuana is reasonably necessary: see Milina v. Bartsch (1985), 49 B.C.L.R. (2d) 33 (S.C.).  As such, I award nothing for the cost of future care.
Frequency of Doctor Visits
The last point of interest deals with the Plaintiff’s frequency of doctor’s visits  I have canvassed this topic previously.  In this week’s case the Plaintiff pointed to having 128 doctor visits as supporting his claim for injury.  The Court, however, found that there was no reasonable justification for this and instead came to the conclusion that the Plaintiff was simply papering his claim.  The following observation was made by Justice Sigurdson:
 [65]         Up to June 2012, the plaintiff saw Dr. Irene Chan, a general practitioner, 128 times for his injuries.  From July 8, 2008 to June 2012, the complaints he made to her were virtually the same on each occasion.  Dr. Chen was not called as an expert witness but testified simply with respect to some of the observations she made…
[107]     It is difficult to know what to make of the fact that the plaintiff attended his general practitioner for 128 visits and appears to have repeated his symptoms almost without change on each visit.  He explained in his testimony that he went to his doctor to report changes in his condition; however his doctor noted each of his attendances with the plaintiff reporting no changes.  The evidence left me with the impression that the plaintiff was creating a record of his injuries for his claim as there appears to be no reasonable medical justification for the number of attendances before his family doctor.  Rather than supporting his credibility, this evidence of the numerous attendances on his family doctor left me with the opposite impression.
 

credibility, Datoc v. Raj, Frequency of Medical Appointments, medical marijuana, Mr. Justice Sigurdson, video surveillance

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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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