Plaintiff Fined $25,000 For Not Complying With Document Production Orders

Update April 1, 2015I am advised that the below decision is presently under appeal
Update July 3, 2015– the below decision was overturned on appeal with the Court noting a Master has no jurisdiction to make such an order.
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Reasons for judgement were recently released by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, leveling sanctions against a Plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit for not complying with Court document production orders.
In the recent case (Badreldin v. Swatridge) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2010 collision.  The Plaintiff was a physiotherapist and claimed diminished earning capacity.  The Defendant obtained Court orders for production of records relating to the Plaintiff’s business losses and these were not wholly complied with.  The Defendant asked that the Plaintiff’s action be dismissed but the Court noted this was too harsh of a remedy.  In ordering a $25,000 fine to be paid Master Harper provided the following reasons:

[46]         The defendant has been put through too much extra time, trouble, and expense in its efforts to limit the order just to compel the plaintiff to produce the documents and information. There has been a persistent pattern of non-compliance. The plaintiff has downplayed his responsibility for the non-compliance with the two court orders. As he has had legal counsel throughout, there is no excuse for his not understanding his responsibilities.

[47]         The production of the documents and information that did occur at the last minute and over a short period of time shows that it was possible to produce the documents and information in a timely fashion.

[48]         I find, therefore, that there has been no lawful excuse for the plaintiff’s non-compliance with the two court orders. I must now consider the sanction…

[53]         In my view, the sanction has to be sufficient to bring home to the plaintiff the point that court orders must be obeyed. In addition, the defendant is entitled to be compensated for the time, trouble, and expense of dealing with this issue, as well as the prejudice caused by the late production of documents and information, and the uncertainty with respect to how the work calendars are going to be used. There is a looming trial date of March 16, 2015. It is uncertain at this point as to whether the trial will go ahead. The loss of a trial date because of this late production is an additional prejudice to the defendant.

[54]         So balancing all of those factors, in my view, a sanction of $25,000 would be appropriate. I therefore order that the plaintiff pay to the defendant the sum of $25,000. The $25,000 will be used to offset against any settlement or judgment the plaintiff receives in this action.

Badreldin v. Swatridge, bc injury law, Master Harper, Rule 22, Rule 22-7, Rule 22-7(6)

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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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