Tag: Gill v. Wal-Mart Canada Corporation

Court – Consent to Defendant Medical Exam Terms Or Risk Claim Dismissal

Forced consent is a strange concept and one that has found its way into injury litigation yet again.
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, ordering a plaintiff to attend a Defence medical exam and to sign a consent form or risk claim dismissal.
In today’s case (Gill v. Wal-Mart Corporation) the Plaintiff alleged injury following a slip and fall.  The Plaintiff agreed to attend an independent medical assessment requested by the Defendant but refused to sign the doctor’s ‘consent’ form.  In ordering the Plaintiff to sign or risk claim dismissal Mr. Justice Funt provided the following reasons:

[39]         With respect to the Master’s second reason that the plaintiff would not be signing the form of consent voluntarily, I respectfully disagree. The plaintiff may choose not to sign the consent form in which case the IME will not be conducted. The defendant may, however, bring an application to strike the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant.

[40]         Although not necessary having regard to the binding authority of Kalaora, I note that the case at bar is readily distinguishable from Peel where our Court of Appeal set aside an order requiring particular parties to endorse a “consent order”. Ordering endorsement of a “consent” court order is not consent. In the case at bar, in context, the court is not forcing the plaintiff to sign the form of consent. If the plaintiff chooses not to sign the form of consent, the plaintiff’s claim may be struck. It is the plaintiff’s choice…

[52]         The plaintiff is ordered to sign the subject form of consent used by Dr. Travlos. If the plaintiff refuses to sign the form of consent, the defendant, Mr. Pandher, is at liberty to apply to have the plaintiff’s claim struck.

No Forced "Consent" When Attending Court Ordered Medical Examination

Update January 30, 2017the below case, in reasons for judgement released today, was largely overturned on appeal
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Although there are conflicting authorities on the subject in British Columbia, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding it is not appropriate for a Court to order a Plaintiff to sign a ‘consent’ form when attending a court ordered independent medical exam.
In today’s case (Gill v. Wal-Mart Canada Corporation) the Plaintiff sued the Defendant for personal injuries after a slip and fall incident.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff agreed to be examined by a physician of the Defendant’s choosing but refused to sign a ‘consent’ form the physician required.  The Defendant asked the Court to order the Plaintiff to sign the consent form but the application was dismissed.  In finding judicially ordered ‘consent’ to be inappropriate Master Harper provided the following reasons:

[31]         In my view, because an order compelling an IME is discretionary, I am not bound by Kalaora or Nikolic to order that the plaintiff sign the consent form. I prefer to follow the reasoning of Peel. In addition, although Dr. Travlos and the College have a legitimate interest in ensuring that a person attending for an IME is properly informed about all aspects of the IME, there are alternative methods to compelled consent to convey the information. I conclude that the plaintiff in this case should not be compelled to sign the consent form required by Dr. Travlos.

[32]         Even if I were of the view that Ms. Gill should be compelled to sign a reasonable consent form, Dr. Travlos’s consent form contains clauses that are not reasonable.

i)       First, Ms. Gill should not be expected to have to agree in writing as to the definition of physiatrist: Slobodzian v. Mitchell and Hameiri (unreported, February 2, 2015, Courtenay Supreme Court Action S085376);

ii)     Second, the last paragraph of the consent form contains this statement: “I am signing this document voluntarily …”. Ms. Gill would not be signing the document voluntarily if compelled to do so by court order;

iii)    Third, the consent form says:

I hereby release Dr. Travlos, his employees and agents, from any and all claims whatsoever, which may arise as a result of the release of the above information.

The clause is difficult to interpret. Dr. Travlos might mean that he is released from liability for releasing the report to the referring source. Or, he might mean that he is released from liability for releasing the report to someone other than the referring source. In either case, a release of liability goes beyond the bounds of a reasonable consent form.

[33]         In Mund v. Braun, 2010 BCSC 1714, the IME doctor required the execution of a jurisdiction agreement. The plaintiff declined to sign it and the court declined to order the plaintiff to sign it on the basis that the court did not have jurisdiction to order the plaintiff to sign a jurisdiction agreement. The release of liability in Dr. Travlos’s consent form is in the same category and is therefore objectionable.

[34]         Both Dr. Travlos and the College have a legitimate interest in ensuring that persons attending IMEs understand the nature and purpose of the IME. Clarity is always better than confusion.

[35]         The options presented on this application were limited to the court ordering the consent form be signed, or not. In my view, there are other options. The desired outcome of a party attending an IME fully informed about the IME could be met if the court were asked to incorporate reasonable terms into the order granting the IME. Those terms would meet the reasonable and legitimate interests of the plaintiff, the defendant, the examining doctor and the College.

[36]         Of course, the terms would have to be acceptable to the doctor or the exercise is meaningless. A drawback to this option is the unnecessary increase in court applications. Both Dr. Travlos and the doctor in Kalaora said that most people seeing them for IMEs consent. It would not be proportionate to require all applications for IMEs to result in a court order.

[37]         The concerns about “improved communication by physicians” and “enhanced understanding by patients” expressed in the guideline could also be met by the doctor providing written information about the IME to the party in advance of the examination. This option would be simpler and less expensive than a court order incorporating the information the doctor seeks to convey to the person being examined.

[38]         An even better option might be for the College to amend its guideline to provide recommendations for physicians conducting IMEs that are court-ordered and not by consent. 

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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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