Raising the Bar for "Resposive" Independent Medical Exams
While the BC Supreme Court can order a Plaintiff to undergo an independent medical exam to allow the opposing party to obtain a ‘responsive’ report, a clear evidentiary foundation must exist in order for such an application to succeed. Unreported reasons for judgement were recently released by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating this.
In the recent case (Becker v. Zetzos) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision. In support of his claim he served a report from a physiatrist. As trial neared the Defendant sought an order requiring the Plaintiff to undergo an independent exam with an orthopedic surgeon for a ‘responsive’ report. This application was brought after the expiry of the 84 day deadline for conventional expert reports to be served.
In support of the application the orthopedic surgeon provided an an affidavit stating as follows:
In order for me to assist the court and properly prepare a rebuttal to the expert report of Dr. Giantomaso I must physically examine the Plaintiff and ask him the usual questions that a doctor would ask in order to elicit any information upon which to ground my expert rebuttal report. I could not give a proper rebuttal opinion report of the Plaintiff which assist the court and opines on the movement, functioning, diagnosis, prognosis, distribution of symptoms, recommendations, suitability for work, and etiology of the Plaintiff without physically examining the Plaintiff and where appropriate palpating the Plaintiff.
In finding this evidence falls short of the mark, Master McCallum provided the following reasons:
 In this case I say the evidentiary threshold has not been crossed. Dr. Dommisse’s letter is simply saying that he cannot give a proper rebuttal opinion report to assist the court without examining the plaintiff. In support of that position he goes through what seems to me to be simply a description of the work he would do if he were preparing a report in the first instance.
 He has Dr. Giantomaso’s report. He doe snot say, as he could have, what there is about that report that would lead him to think that he himself needs to examine the plaintiff. The defendant has not met the evidentiary threshold to support the request for a physical examination of the plaintiff prior to preparation of a rebuttal report.
To my knowledge this decision is not publicly available but, as always, I’m happy to provide a copy to anyone who contacts me and requests one.