Tag: Moll v. Parmar

Jury Strike Application Succeeds in Complex Personal Injury Case

Earlier this month I highlighted two decisions addressing whether injury trials with numerous expert witnesses were too complex for a jury to hear.  The first case dismissed the jury notice and the second case upheld the notice.
This week a futher judgement was released addressing this topic finding a case with 475 pages of expert evidence was too complex for a jury.
In this week’s case (Moll v. Parmar) both the Plaintiff and Defendant filed a jury notice.   At the trial management conference the Defendant indicated that a jury trial was still anticipated.   As trial neared, however, the Defendant changed their view and brought an application to strike the Plaintiff’s jury notice.  Mr. Justice Abrioux found that the case was too complex for a jury and in so doing provided the following reasons:
[43]         What militates against the action proceeding before a jury is the sheer volume of medical reports, and in many instances, the scientific aspect of the evidence. I have reviewed many of the medical and other experts’ reports which were provided to me in October 2012. As I noted above, they comprise approximately 475 pages. The reports refer to other reports and assessments. The neuropsychological reports deal with many different tests, as do the vocational and functional capacity evaluations.
[44]         I  emphasize that what is in the record before me are experts’ reports, that is, evidence which, depending on admissibility issues, will be before the trier of fact. In that regard they are to be distinguished from, as I have noted, hospital and other records which may well have much less significance or importance to the trier of fact.
[45]         In my view, there can be little doubt that the issues in this case will require a prolonged examination of documents or accounts or a scientific or local investigation. The plaintiff presents two alternative theories, the first being whether the accident caused an organic brain injury, which is scientifically complex. The reports of the neuroradiologist attest to this…
[51]         I am satisfied that both tests set out in Rule 12-6(5)(a)(i) and (ii) have been met. First this case does involve a scientific investigation which will include a prolonged examination of documents, in particular experts’ reports, that cannot conveniently be heard by a jury. Secondly, the issues are sufficiently intricate and complex that the trial should not proceed with a jury. Justice would not be done if that were to take place. Accordingly, I direct that the trial be heard by the trial judge without a jury.

It Is Not Appropriate to Order a Medical Exam By An Expert Who previously "Bordered on Advocacy"

In my continued efforts to track judicial comments addressing expert witness advocacy, reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Cranbrook Registry, dismissing an application for a defence medical exam where the proposed examiner wrote a previous report that, in the Court’s view, “border(ed) on advocacy“.
In last week’s case (Moll v. Parmar) the Defendant sought to have the Plaintiff examined by a neuropsychologist.  Prior to the proposed exam the doctor wrote a “very vigorous critique” relating to the Plaintiff’s expert’s conclusions.  The Court held that, in such circumstances, it is “not appropriate for the court to order a medical examination…by an expert who has previously taken such a strong stance“.
In dismissing this application Mr. Justice Meiklem provided the following reasons:
[13]         Turning first to the Master’s errors alleged by the appellant, I initially gave rather short shrift to Mr. Harris’ submission that Drs. Craig and Williams had been recruited as advocates for the defence by virtue of the nature of the defence requests to them and the nature and content of their reports, that they should be viewed as lacking the necessary objectivity to warrant being appointed by the court to conduct IMEs of the plaintiff. After considering the retainer letters and the reports of Drs. Williams and Craig, I see considerable merit in the appellant’s argument with respect to Dr. Williams’ compromised objectivity. The circumstances in respect of Dr. Craig’s report are somewhat different.
[14]         The appellant’s concern was not only the advocacy bias apprehended by the plaintiff, but also the bias concerning the plaintiff’s condition that was already demonstrated by the roles these experts were retained for and the reports they had already delivered. He considered it highly improbable and purely theoretical that either of these specialists would be able to change any previously expressed views after their examinations of the plaintiff.
[15]         Dr. Williams’ report emanated from a retainer letter wherein the pertinent paragraph stated simply that Mr. Moll was advancing a claim for a head injury in a highway collision and then stated: “I ask that you please kindly review the enclosed report of Dr. Jeffrey Martzke dated May 1, 2012, together with the enclosed documentation set out in the attached schedule “A”, with a view to discussing Mr. Moll’s claim with me.” The letter promised to forward Dr. Martzke’s raw test data, which was forwarded in due course and reviewed by Dr. Williams.
[16]         Dr. Williams described the purpose of his report as responding to the reports of Dr. Martzke and Dr. Wallace (the plaintiff’s vocational consultant) and he said he limited his comments to aspects pertaining to the methods, procedures and process of the reports, as well as the sufficiency of the conclusions recommendations or diagnoses of Drs. Martzke and Wallace.
[17]         Dr. Williams’ report is, however, a very rigorous critique of Dr. Martzke’s methods and testing, as well as his conclusions, and in my view does at least border on advocacy, as argued by Mr. Harris. Dr. Williams’ criticisms of Dr. Martzke’s report and findings may well be found to be completely correct, and my comments will not fetter the trial judge’s rulings if the report is tendered, but I do not think it is appropriate for the court to order a medical examination of a plaintiff by an expert who has previously taken such a strong stance in accepting the role as a reviewer of a previous examiner’s report, particularly in view of the specific provisions of Rule 11-2(1) of the Civil Rules.

Loss of Interdependency Claims Need to Be Specifically Plead

In British Columbia the law recognizes that a Plaintiff can be awarded damages if they have injuries which impair their opportunity to form a permanent interdependent economic relationship.  Reasons for judgement were released Last week by the BC Supreme Court, Cranbrook Registry, addressing whether such a claim forms part of a diminished earning capacity claim or if it is a unique loss which needs to be specifically plead.  In short the Court held such claims do indeed need to be particularized in the pleadings.
In last week’s case (Moll v. Parmar) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 collision.  As trial neared the Plaintiff served an economist’s report advancing an interdependency claim and valuing damages for this at $200,000.  The report was served outside the time permitted under the Rules of Court.  The Defendant objected to the report’s admissibility due to its late service and further due to the fact that an interdependency claim was not specifically plead.  Mr Justice Abrioux held that the report would not be admitted in these circumstances and ordered an adjournment to address the concerns raised.  In concluding that an interdependency claims need to be specifically plead the Court provided the following reasons:
[19]         The issue before me, being whether the interdependency claim had to be specifically pled, was not before the Court of Appeal in Anderson. I have concluded that while an interdependency claim is “closely connected” to one for loss of earning capacity, it is nonetheless a separate head of damages. It should be specifically pled and accompanied, pursuant to the Supreme Court Civil Rules, R. 3-1(2)(a), by a concise statement of the material facts giving rise to the claim.
[20]         Accordingly, if the plaintiff seeks to advance this claim, he is required to amend his statement of claim. Absent the defendant’s consent, he will have to apply to do so. There is no draft amended notice of civil claim before me and, accordingly, I am not in a position to deal with a proposed amended pleading at this time.

Parties Cannot Rely on Opposing Litigant's Jury Notice Under The New Rules of Court

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Cranbrook Registry, concluding that under the New Rules a Plaintiff “is not entitled to have a jury trial by paying the jury fees associated with the jury notice filed by the Defendant“.
In this week’s case (Moll v. Parmar) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 collision.  The case had a complex pre-trial history that cannot easily be summarized but in short the matter was set for trial with only one live jury notice in place which was filed by the Defendant.  As trial neared the Defendant elected not to rely on the Jury Notice.  The Plaintiff brought an application allowing him to piggy-back on the Defendant’s Jury Notice.  Mr. Justice Abrioux held that this was not allowed and dismissed the application.  The court did, however, grant the Plaintiff leave to file a jury notice of their own.
In concluding that one party cannot rely on another’s Jury Notice under the New Rules the Court provided the following reasons:
 [1]             The plaintiff seeks to have the trial of this action heard by the court with a jury. The application was heard on July 12, 2012. It raises the issue as to whether under the Supreme Court Civil Rules, which came into effect on July 1, 2010, a party which did not file a jury notice may, nonetheless, rely on a jury notice filed by another party and secure a trial by jury by paying the required fees. In light of the pending trial date being August 13, 2012, I am delivering these oral reasons for judgment today. I reserve the right to edit these reasons although that process will not involve a change in the decision or in the reasoning…
[19]         The plaintiff’s submission is predicated on the word “and” at the conclusion of Rule 39(26)(a) not being present at the end of Rule 12-6(3)(a)(ii). The plaintiff submits the inclusion of “and” at the end of Rule 39(26)(a) formed the basis of William J.’s conclusion in Folk. It was only the party that issued the jury notice who was entitled to pay the jury fees associated with that notice.
[20]         I agree with the plaintiff that the word “and” at the end of Rule 39(26)(a) was an important factor in Folk. I do not agree, however, that its omission in Rule 12-6(3)(a)(ii) changes the state of the law. Rule 12-6(3) states, “a party may require that the trial of an action be heard by the court with a jury by doing the following”. Although “and” is not present, the words “by doing the following” were added in the introductory wording of the present subrule.
[21]         In accordance with Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership v. Rex, 2002 SCC 42, I read the subrule in its entire context “in its grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously” with the Supreme Court Civil Rules. In doing so, I am of the view the words “by doing the following” had the effect of replacing the word “and” which appeared in Rule 39(26)(a).
[22]         Accordingly, as would have been the case under Rule 39(26), the plaintiff in this case is not entitled to have a jury trial by paying the jury fees associated with the jury notice filed by the defendant.

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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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