Tag: Master Keighley

Withdrawing Deemed Admissions: Rule 7-7(5) Given First Judicial Consideration


Under both the old and the new BC Supreme Court Civil Rules parties to a lawsuit could ask the opposing side to make binding admissions through a “Notice to Admit”.  If the opposing side fails to respond to the Notice in the time lines required they are deemed to have made the sought admissions.  Once the admission is made it cannot be withdrawn except by consent of the parties or with the Court’s permission.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, considering when deemed admissions could be withdrawn under the New Rules.
In today’s case (Weiss v. Koenig) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 motor vehicle collision.  He claimed he sustained various injuries including bilateral hearing impairment.  In the course of the lawsuit ICBC asked the Plaintiff to make various admissions including an admission that his hearing was not affected as a result of the collision.  The Plaintiff failed to respond to the Notice to Admit in time thus was deemed to make the admissions.  The Plaintiff brought a motion to set these admissions aside and ICBC opposed.
Master Keighley granted the motion and set aside the admissions.  In doing so the Court noted that the admissions were made by inadvertence and that there was little prejudice to ICBC if these admissions were set aside.
This is the first decision I’m aware of applying Rule 7-7(5) of the new Rules of Court.  The Court noted that the new rule is almost identical as the old rule and implies that the precedents developed under the old Rule 31 remain good law.  Master Keighley set out and applied the following test in addressing the application:

Is there a triable issue which in the interests of justice should be resolved on the merits and not disposed of by deemed admission? In applying the test, all of the circumstances should be taken into account including:

1.         That the admission has been made inadvertently, hastily, or without knowledge of the facts.

2.         That the fact admitted was not within the knowledge of the party making the admission.

3.         That the fact admitted is not true.

4.         That the fact admitted is one of mixed fact and law.

5.         That the withdrawal of the admission would not prejudice a party.

6.         That there has been no delay in applying to withdraw the admission.

Infant Injury Claims in British Columbia and Conflicts of Interest


When an infant (for the purposes of civil lawsuits anyone under 19 years of age is considered an ‘infant’ in British Columbia) is injured and wants to sue for damages they can’t start a lawsuit on their own.  They must do so through an adult ‘litigation guardian‘.
For obvious reasons, it is common for a parent to fill the role of litigation guardian.  Oftentimes in infant injury claims Defendants argue not only that the child is to blame for the accident but also that the child’s parents are to blame for failing to adequately supervise their children.  If this defence is raised against a parent litigation guardian it can place them in a conflict of interest.  So what can be done in this situation?  Reasons for judgement were released demonstrating one possible outcome to such a fact pattern.
In today’s case (Gill v. Morin) the Plaintiff was “grievously hurt” when his ATV struck or was struck by a car driven by the Defendant.  He started a lawsuit against the motorist with his mother acting as litigation guardian.  The Defendant denied fault and argued that the Plaintiff’s mother was to blame for “failure to adequately supervise (her) son”.
Once placed in this conflict of interest the Plaintiff’s mom applied to the Public Guardian and Trustee (“PGT”) and asked them to take over the lawsuit.  The PGT refused to do so unless they were “insulated from any claim for costs” in the event it turned out to be a losing lawsuit.
The parties turned to the Court for a solution.  The Plaintiff asked the Court to order that the PGT act as litigation guardian.  The PGT opposed this arguing that the lawsuit should simply be put on hold until the infant becomes an adult.  The Defendant opposed the PGT’s position arguing this would result in unfair delay.
The Court ultimately sided with the PGT and held that the lawsuit should be put on hold until the infant’s 19th birthday and from there he could decide whether to carry on with the lawsuit.  Master Keighley provided the following analysis:

[32] It is indeed regrettable that this defendant, who may eventually be found to be blameless with respect to this accident, may be obliged to wait several more years for the issues of liability and perhaps quantum to be resolved, but in the absence of any specific evidence, I am not prepared to find that the defendant is prejudiced by a stay of this action until the plaintiff obtains the age of majority. The limitation for this cause of action will not begin to run against the infant plaintiff until he reaches the age of majority on February 2, 2012 and it seems to be the defendant is no more prejudiced by a stay of proceedings then he would be had the plaintiff waited until then to commence this action.

Result

[33] In the result then, Piar will be removed as litigation guardian forthwith. The third party’s application to appoint the PGT as litigation guardian is dismissed. The action will be stayed until the infant plaintiff reaches the age of majority. Should counsel be unable to resolve the issue of costs, that issue may be brought back before me.

If you are faced with a similar dilemma this case is worth reviewing in full as the Court summarizes a handful of useful precedents disposing of similar applications at paragraphs 16-30 of the reasons for judgement.

Late Applications for Defence Medical Exams in ICBC Injury Claims


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court considering the issue of timing of applications for compelled medical exams in the context of an ICBC Injury Claim.
Under the current BC Supreme Court Rules expert evidence that is not ‘responsive‘ is required to be served on opposing parties 60 days before it is tendered into evidence.  This requirement is set out in Rule 40A.  (As of July 1, 2010 a new set of BC Supreme Court Rules will come into force and Rule 11 will govern the admissibility of reports which makes some changes to timelines for exchange of expert evidence).
When a Defendant comes to court asking for a compelled exam BC Courts have considered the issue of timing and if the application is inside the timelines for service of a report the Defendant may have an uphill battle.  Reasons for judgement were released today demonstrating this.
In today’s case (Moore v. Hind) the Plaintiff was injured in 2 motor vehicle collisions.  Both trials were set to be heard together.  ICBC brought an application to compel the Plaintiff to be assessed by Dr. Ray Baker, a doctor who specializes in so-called ‘addiction medicine‘.  This application was brought late in the litigation process.  ICBC argued that the medical evidence served by the Plaintiff’s lawyer gave a “clear and emphatic indication that the plaintiff may suffer a drug addiction problem” and as a result the need for the late application.
The Plaintiff disagreed arguing that ICBC could have pursued this line of inquiry earlier in the process.  Master Keighley agreed with the Plaintiff and dismissed the motion.  In doing so the Court placed weight on the late timing of this application and this proved fatal to ICBC’s argument.  Specifically the Court stated as follows:

[10] This application raises certain practical difficulties.  One is the question of whether a further examination and the likely preparation of a report at this time will jeopardize the existing trial date.  There is certainly very little time left now between the date of this application and the trial.  It is unlikely that the plaintiff would have sufficient opportunity to in any way rebut the findings in a report prepared by Dr. Baker.  It seems to me there is a substantial likelihood that should the order sought be granted, an application may be made to adjourn the trial.

[11] It also seems to me that this application is unnecessarily brought at a late date.  There was, to my mind, a significant indication of overuse or misuse of prescription drugs as early as a year ago, and arrangements might then have been made in a more orderly fashion to have an examination by Dr. Baker or another, with respect to these issues.

[12] Having read portions of Dr. Smith’s report, it seems to me, however, that the third parties may well be afforded an opportunity to yet achieve a level playing field by having their own expert, Dr. Smith, consider the reports, the clinical records and other information relating to the claim with regard to assessing the issue of the plaintiff’s prescription drug use and its impact potentially upon her claim.

[13] In this regard it seems to me that the prejudice to be suffered by the third party in not having an opportunity to have a further assessment is minimized, whereas the potential prejudice to the plaintiff is substantial.  She is depicted in the medical reports as being a highly tense, anxious individual, and it would seem, and indeed she suggests that she will be extremely prejudiced if this claim is not resolved at the earliest possible date.  There is also an issue of inconvenience which is of a relatively minor nature, in that she has another medical examination scheduled for the morning of the proposed examination and would be obliged to cancel that if ordered by the court to attend for an appointment with Dr. Baker.  She also then had made plans to visit with her mother in the Christmas holidays, beginning on the night of December 22nd.  Those issues of inconvenience are of a relatively minor nature and would not be conclusive in themselves.

[14] I am satisfied that the application should be dismissed.  It is simply brought at too late a date and it is likely that it will result in an adjournment of this trial, which the material before me indicates, if adjourned, would likely not be rescheduled until perhaps June of 2011.

Joining 2 Separate ICBC Claims for Trial at the Same Time

If you are involved in 2 separate car accidents and start 2 separate Injury Claims in the BC Supreme Court is it possible to have the trials heard at the same time?
The answer is yes and such applications are governed by BC Supreme Court Rule 5(8) which states that “proceedings may be consolidated at any time by order of the court or may be ordered to be tried at the same time or on the same day“.
Today reasons for judgement were released by the BC Supreme Court (Miclash v. Yan) considering an application under Rule 5(8).  In granting the Plaintiff’s request to have multiple claims heard at the same time Master Keighley concisely set out the principles to be considered in these applications.  The Court summarized the law as follows:

[15] The application is brought pursuant to Rule 5(8) of the Rules of Court…

[16] The order sought is discretionary.

[17] Exercise of this discretion is governed by the principles set out in the decision of Master Kirkpatrick, as she then was, in the case of Merritt v. Imasco Enterprises Inc. (1992), 2 C.P.C. (3d) 275 at para. 18 and 19:

18.       None of the submissions of counsel address the real issue to be determined. That is, are the issues raised by the pleadings sufficiently similar to warrant the order sought and will the order make sense in the circumstances? An application to have actions tried at the same time thus requires an examination of circumstances which may be of a more general nature than is made under R. 27 or 19.

19.       I accept that the foundation of an application under R. 5(8) is, indeed, disclosed by the pleadings. The examination of the pleadings will answer the first question to be addressed: do common claims, disputes and relationships exist between the parties? But the next question which one must ask is: are they “so interwoven as to make separate trials at different times before different judges undesirable and fraught with problems and economic expense”? Webster v. Webster (1979), 12 B.C.L.R. 172 at 182, 10 R.F.L. (2d) 148, 101 D.L.R. (3d) 248 (C.A.). That second question cannot, in my respectful view, be determined solely by reference to the pleadings. Reference must also be made to matters disclosed outside the pleadings:

(1)        Will the order sought create a saving in pre-trial procedures, (in particular, pre-trial conferences)?;

(2)        Will there be a real reduction in the number of trial days taken up by the trials being heard at the same time?;

(3)        What is the potential for a party to be seriously inconvenienced by being required to attend a trial in which that party may have only a marginal interest?; and

(4)        Will there be a real saving in experts’ time and witness fees?

This is in no way intended to be an exhaustive list. It merely sets out some of the factors which, it seems to me, ought to be weighed before making an order under R. 5(8).

[18] To these considerations, Master Joyce, as he then was, added two more in the case of Shah v. Bakken, [1996] B.C.J. No. 2836, 20 B.C.L.R. (3d) 393, at para. 15:

Other factors which in my view can be added to the foregoing list are:

(5)  Is one of the actions at a more advanced stage than the other? See: Forestral Automation Ltd. v. RMS Industrial Controls Inc. et al. (No.2), unreported, March 6, 1978, No. C765633/76, Vancouver (B.C.S.C.).

(6)  Will the order result a delay of the trial of one of the actions and, if so, does any prejudice which a party may suffer as a result of that delay outweigh the potential benefits which a combined trial might otherwise have?

In my continued effort to cross reference civil procedure cases with the new BC Supreme Court Rules which will take effect on July 1, 2010 Rule 5(8) is replicated in full under the New Rules and can be found at Rule 22-5(8).  Accordingly, the principles set out above will likely continue to be useful in considering similar applications once the new rules come into force.

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If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.

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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