Tag: Failure To Examine a Plaintiff

Failure to Examine Patient Impacts Weight of Expert Report

It is well established that failure of an ‘independent medical examiner’ to physically examine a patient is not, in and of itself, a reason for an expert report to be inadmissible in the BC Supreme Court. However, when a litigant relies on such a report the weight the court attaches to it is often negatively impacted.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating this.
In this week’s case (Johal v. Meyede) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2010 rear end collision.  Fault was admitted by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff suffered injuries which were ongoing at the time of trial and expected to effect her well into the future.  In the course of defending the claim ICBC retained a neurologist who did not examine the Plaintiff and provided a more conservative opinion with respect to the plaintiff’s limitations and care needs.  In placing less weight on this opinion, in part for failing to examine the plaintiff, Mr. Justice Funt provided the following reasons:
[47] The defendants also called Dr. F. Kemble as an expert witness. He had been retained to provide a responding medical-legal report. He was qualified, without objection, to provide expert evidence with respect to neurology. Dr. Kemble concluded his October 22, 2013 report saying:
I do not feel that there is any indication for any thoracic outlet surgery. Ultimately, the probability is that she will be able to work full time although she will probably have minor difficulty in terms of using her arm and moving her neck. I am optimistic, that with the measures outlined by Dr. Travlos and Dr. Caillier, that the pain will significantly reduce.
[48] For two reasons, I have given less weight to Dr. Kemble’s report and testimony than the other medical experts. First, he did not meet or examine the plaintiff. Second, in cross-examination, Dr. Kemble conceded that the basis for his report could be incorrect to the extent it was based on the assumption that the plaintiff’s symptoms would become intermittent.

Defence Medical Doctor Given "Very Little Weight" For Failing to Examine Plaintiff

As previously discussed, the failure of a doctor to examine a Plaintiff is not, in and of itself, a barrier to the physician from providing opinion evidence to the BC Supreme Court, however, often little weight is attached to a doctor’s opinion in such circumstances. This was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.
In this week’s case (Rizzotti v. Doe) the Plaintiff suffered psychological injuries in a serious collision in which the offending motorist died. At trial the Plaintiff tendered expert evidence addressing the extent of her injuries. The Defendant tendered a report from a psychiatrist, Dr. Levin, who disagreed with the Plaintiff’s experts with respect to the extent of her accident realted psychological injuries.
Dr. Levin did not examine the Plaintiff prior to authoring his report and in the course of trial acknowledged that “that he could not do a proper assessment without interviewing the plaintiff“. The court accordingly provided little wieght on Dr. Levin’s opinion and provided the following reasons:
[27] Dr. Levin is a psychiatrist tendered by the defendants as rebuttal evidence to the opinion of Dr. Anderson. The plaintiff objected to the admissibility of Dr. Levin’s report during this trial. I declared a voir dire to allow the plaintiff to cross-examine Dr. Levin and make argument as to the admissibility of the report. I ultimately found that the report was admissible, however I initially told counsel that I would be putting very little weight on the report as Dr. Levin did not interview the plaintiff…

34] For the above noted reasons I ruled Dr. Levin’s report admissible and I ruled that his evidence on the voir dire would form evidence on the trial proper.

[35] I have already explained that I am putting little weight on Dr. Levin’s report because he did not interview the plaintiff. Dr. Levin himself testified that he could not do a proper assessment without interviewing the plaintiff.

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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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