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Reasonable Disbursements – What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander

Reasons for judgement were released recently by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, ordering a Defendant to disclose the cost of their medico-legal reports where they were contesting the reasonableness of the Plaintiff’s disbursements.
In the recent case (Sturdy v. Dhadda) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision and sued for damages.  The claim was eventually settled for $300,000 plus costs and disbursements.  The Defendant disputed the reasonableness of the costs of some the plaintiff’s expert reports.  The Plaintiff applied for and was granted an order for the Defendant to disclose the cost of their expert reports.  In finding this was fair District Registrar Nielsen provided the following reasons:
[18]         What these cases demonstrate is that a comparison of the same or like expert within the same litigation is relevant. By allowing the party who challenges the reasonableness of the assessments charged by the assessing party’s experts to cherry pick what accounts they will or will not disclose leads to selective and inconsistent disclosure. If disclosure suggests the other party’s accounts are too high, they are readily disclosed for that purpose. On the other hand, if they do not, those records, for strategic reasons, are simply not produced. In my view, this leads to an imbalance which requires the levelling of the playing field…

[29]         The onus of proving the reasonableness of the plaintiff’s expert’s charges clearly rests upon the shoulders of the plaintiff who is the assessing party. The accounts of the plaintiff’s experts have been disclosed and scrutinized by the defendants, following which the defendants have alleged those charges are unreasonable within the context of Supreme Court Civil Rule 14-1(5).

[30]         In these circumstances, where the defendants have served their expert reports upon the plaintiff, the amounts paid by the defendants to their experts in the same specialities, involving the same patient, with the same clinical history, will be relevant. While a comparison of fees and charges would not be determinative and is only a single factor in the analysis, it is a matter properly considered in the context of this case, where the defendants are directly challenging the reasonableness of the plaintiff’s experts’ accounts.

[31]         The plaintiff’s application is allowed with respect to Dr. Pullmer and Dr. Dost. The plaintiff’s application with respect to Dr. Grypma is dismissed. I am not satisfied that the evidence before me provides a sufficient basis to establish the relevance of the invoices of Dr. Grypma, orthopedic surgeon, to those of Dr. Adrian, physiatrist.

[32]         Since the plaintiff has been substantially successful, they are entitled to the costs of their application.

bc injury law, District Registrar Nielsen, reasonable disbursements, Sturdy v. Dhadda