Prior Expert Reports, Cross-Examination and Notice
When a Plaintiff is cross examined in the trial of a personal injury claim can opinions from medico-legal reports from prior litigation be introduced into evidence without complying with the notice requirements set out in the Rules of Court? Reasons for judgement were recently released by the BC Supreme Court addressing this issue.
In the recent case (Hosking v. Mahoney) the Plaintiff was injured in three separate motor vehicle collisions. The first collision was in 2000, the second in 2001 and the third in 2004.
The Plaintiff advanced claims for compensation as a result of all three collisions. In the course of the first two claims the Plaintiff’s physician authored a medico-legal report in 2003 addressing the extent of her injuries. The Plaintiff settled both these claims prior to her third collision.
The claim arising from the third collision did not settle and proceeded to trial. At trial the Defendant introduced the prior medico-legal report during cross examination. The Court allowed this and further permitted the previous opinion to go into evidence even though the usual notice requirements for the introduction of opinion evidence were not complied with. In permitting this evidence to be introduced Mr. Justice Warren provided the following reasons:
 I found the medical opinion of Dr. Gurdeep Parhar, the plaintiff’s attending physician for the first two accidents and the author of the medical/legal report of March 10, 2003, important and difficult to resolve with the evidence and submissions of the plaintiff that she had largely recovered prior to the February 2004 accident. This evidence was entered by the defendant when cross-examining the plaintiff and was not rebutted or varied by Dr. Parhar who was not called to testify. The court is entitled to draw an adverse inference when a witness who could provide relevant evidence on an issue before the court, is not called. In my view the defendant was entitled to rely upon the letter and opinion of Dr. Parhar without providing the usual notice. It was a report prepared for and at the request of the plaintiff and it was identified and portions adopted by the plaintiff in cross-examination. The plaintiff had the opportunity to call Dr. Parhar or evidence to rebut the opinion or to object to its introduction prior to its use in cross-examination.