More on The New Rules of Court, IME's and "Responding" Medical Reports


Precedents addressing whether an independent medical exam can be ordered to permit a Defendant to obtain a ‘responding‘ report are still being worked out by the BC Supreme Court.  (You can click here to read my archived posts addressing this topic) Reasons for judgement were released today by the BCSC, Victoria Registry, further addressing this issue.
In today’s case (Hamilton v. Demandre) the Plaintiff was involved in 2 separate motor vehicle collisions.  She claimed she was injured in the first and that those injuries were aggravated in the second crash.  Both lawsuits were set for trial at the same time.   One of the alleged injuries was “visual vestibular mismatch with associated dizziness, motion sickness, balance problems and double vision“.
The Plaintiff submitted to medical exams with a neurologist and an orthopaedic surgeon at the request of the Defendant in the first crash.  The Plaintiff also attended an examination with a psychiatrist at the request of the Defendant in the second crash.
In support of her claim, the Plaintiff served reports from various experts including an ENT specialist.    These reports were served in compliance with the time lines set out in the Rules of Court.  The Defendant in the second crash then asked that the Plaintiff attend a further exam with an ENT of their choosing.  The examination was to take place less than 84 days before trial.
The Defendant argued that this exam was necessary in order to obtain a ‘responding‘ report.  The Plaintiff opposed arguing a further exam was not necessary.  Master Bouck agreed with the Plaintiff and dismissed the application.  In doing so the Court provided the following useful reasons:

[33] In a nutshell, the defendant submits that an ENT examination is required to rebut the opinion that the plaintiff’s ocular vestibular problems have worsened as a result of the second accident.

[34] Dr. Longridge’s report predates the second accident; as such, it is not of assistance to the defendant’s argument. If anyone were to rely on this report to obtain a rebuttal examination, it would be the defendants in the First Action.

[35] In any event, the complaints of ocular vestibular problems are of longstanding. This is not a case of a new diagnosis or even a suggestion that a referral to such an ENT specialist is medically required. Dr. Ballard merely opines that a referral to such a specialist is a possibility if the plaintiff’s symptoms continue. Moreover, Dr. Moll, whose opinion was clearly available to the defendant for some time, discusses these symptoms in his report of January 21, 2009.

[36] As submitted by the plaintiff, the defendant chose to pursue a psychiatric, rather than ENT opinion, knowing that the ocular vestibular complaints formed a significant part of the plaintiff’s claim.

[37] As for the other opinions offered, the experts are in agreement that the plaintiff’s condition has worsened, but that treatment may yet alleviate or reduce those symptoms.

[38] The defence clearly has a theory:  the plaintiff is malingering and/or suffers a somatoform disorder. To have the plaintiff examined by an ENT specialist for an assessment that will either be diagnostic in nature and thus not true rebuttal; or merely to prove a negative, that is to confirm that there is no physiological cause for the balance and visual disturbances, would be inconsistent not only with the authorities cited to me, but also with the purposes of Rule 7?6 and 11?6 (4).

[39] On the material before me, I conclude that any report forthcoming from Dr. Bell would be fresh opinion evidence masquerading as answer to the plaintiff’s reports.

[40] In short, the defendant has failed to meet the necessary evidentiary threshold which might support an order for the examinations requested. The application is thus dismissed with costs in the cause.


bc injury law, Hamilton v. Demandre, independent medical exams, Master Bouck, responding reports, Rule 11, Rule 11-6, Rule 11-6(4), Rule 7, Rule 7-6, Rule 7-6(1)

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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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