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Tag: Mr. Justice Goepel

Clinical Records Undermine Personal Injury Claim at Trial

I have previously discussed the use of clinical records in a personal injury trial and some limits of their use.  Despite these limits, clinical records can be used to undermine a personal injury claim in appropriate circumstances.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating this.
In this week’s case (Lees v. Compton) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 collision.  At trial the Court accepted she was injured however concluded that “the injuries…did not impact on er life to the extent that she has claimed“.  In reaching this conclusion the Court relied heavily on admissions made in various clinical records.  Mr. Justice Goepel provided the following reasons:
[68]         The more difficult question is the impact that these injuries have had on the plaintiff’s life.  The plaintiff suggests that the injuries have had a significant impact on her life.  She says she has been forced to give up sports and is no longer capable of holding down a part-time job.  The plaintiff does acknowledge that her long time goal of being a university professor remains intact but submits that her injuries will in the future likely impact on her ability to fulfill the functions of that employment.
[69]         The excerpts in the clinical records suggest that the plaintiff’s limitations are not as great as she claims.  The records clearly put in question certain of the plaintiff’s evidence and raise issues as to her credibility.  The records indicate that the plaintiff has misled the Court with respect to playing field hockey subsequent to the accident, running subsequent to the accident, and the impact of the accident on her study habits…
[73]         In the course of the trial the plaintiff admitted that the physiotherapy notes were business records and admissible pursuant to s. 42 of the Evidence Act.  By definition, that means the document was made in the usual and ordinary course of business and it was in the usual and ordinary course of the business to record in that document a statement of the fact at the time it occurred or within a reasonable time thereafter.  The notes record information that would be of importance to a physiotherapist in formulating an appropriate treatment plan. It is not the type of note which one would expect would be wrongfully recorded.
[74]         While I acknowledge the comments of N. Smith J. in Edmundson that clinical records must be viewed with caution, in this case there are eight separate notes that are in issue.  With regard to each note, the plaintiff claims the physiotherapist is wrong and she never gave the information in question because the information sets out activities in which she did not participate and indeed could not participate because of her injuries.
[75]         On the evidence before me I cannot disregard the physiotherapist’s notes.  While it is possible that a clinical note may be in error it is highly improbable that there would be eight such errors. There is also little evidence that contradicts the notes. As noted earlier, other than Ms. Welch, the plaintiff did not call any of her contemporaries as witnesses and Ms. Welsh’s evidence was limited to her experience on one field hockey team. 
[76]         I find that the plaintiff made the statements to the physiotherapist that are recorded in the clinical notes. Those statements raise significant questions concerning the plaintiff’s credibility.  Her evidence must be viewed with great caution…
[83]         I find the plaintiff was injured in the accident.  As a result of the accident, she suffered soft tissue injuries which continued to cause her some difficulties.  The injuries, however, did not impact on her life to the extent that she has claimed.

Litigants Prohibited From Self-Recording Examinations For Discovery

Adding to this site’s archived posts relating to examinations for discovery under the BC Supreme Court Rules, reasons for judgement were released this week addressing whether a party may self-record an examination for discovery.  In short the answer is no.
In this week’s case (Rassaf v. SNC-Lavalin Engineers and Constructors Inc.) the Plaintiff indicated he wished to record his own discovery.  The Defendant brought an application prohibiting him from doing so.  In granting the application Mr. Justice Goepel provided the following reasons:
[6]             A somewhat similar situation arose concerning the power of parties to videotape examinations for discovery. In Ramos v. Stace-Smith (2004), 24 B.C.L.R. (4th) 333, Mr. Justice Fraser allowed an examination to be videotaped.
[7]             That decision was subsequently followed in Ribeiro v. Vancouver (City), 2004 BCSC 105. The Ribeiro case was appealed. The appeal judgment is found at 2004 BCCA 482. On appeal, Madam Justice Southin held that the decision in Stace-Smith was wrongly decided and similarly the chambers judgment in Ribeiro, which had followed Stace-Smith, was similarly wrongly decided. In reaching her decision, she noted that there was no provision in the Rules for an order for videotaping. She said at para. 3:
There is no provision in the Rules of the Supreme Court of British Columbia for the order which was pronounced in this case. Since time immemorial, that is to say since examinations for discovery were first permitted in this province which I think now is about 80 or 90 years ago, they have never been filmed by any method at all. If they are to be, there must be a change in the Rules of the Court to permit or authorize such a practice, or, in my view, there must be at least a practice direction emanating from the whole of the Supreme Court of British Columbia on the point. In making the latter remark, I am not saying that a practice direction would necessarily be valid in such circumstances. Matters of practice and procedure in the court below must be governed by its Rules, and those Rules must be duly enacted under theCourt Rules of Practice Act. It is certainly open to the Lieutenant Governor in Council to permit what Mr. Potts says is a very good idea but she has not done so. It is not appropriate for a single judge of the court below to engage in matters of practice and procedure in what I call judicial individualism. The course of the court below is the law of the court and the course has never been to engage in such a practice.
Those words apply in these circumstances.
[8]             It has not been the practice that individual parties are allowed to record examinations for discovery. There is no provision for same in the Rules. In these circumstances it would not be appropriate for me to allow such to occur. Accordingly, I am granting the defendant’s order, and the plaintiff will be prohibited from recording by any means his examination for discovery.

Facebook Photos Fail to Thwart ICBC Injury Claim

As previously discussed, Facebook photo production is becoming a common occurrence in personal injury litigation.   Despite the undesirable consequences on privacy expectations it is worth remembering that such photos, much like more conventional surveillance evidence, are not necessarily harmful in and of themselves.  Surveillance evidence is only damaging to a personal injury claim when it depicts activities inconsistent with the Plaintiff’s evidence.  Photographic evidence that does not reach this threshold is really of little value.  This was demonstrated in reasons for judgement released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.
In today’s case (Guthrie v. Narayan) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 rear-end collision.  She suffered from chronic soft tissue injuries which were expected to cause on-going problems into the future.  At trial the Defence introduced Facebook photos depicting the Plaintiff on a trip to Las Vegas.  Mr. Justice Goepel found these to be of little value and assessed non-pecuniary damages at $65,000.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[27] I accept the testimony of Dr. Cordoni and Dr. Badii. I find that Ms. Guthrie sustained soft tissue injuries to the neck and back as a result of the motor vehicle accident. These soft tissue injuries have led to chronic neck and shoulder pain. I find that it is unlikely that there will be any significant change in her condition for the foreseeable future.

[28] I further find that Ms. Guthrie has aggressively attempted to deal with her injuries. She has followed the medical recommendations made to her. She has attended physiotherapy and message therapy. She took a series of painful IMS treatments. She works out regularly. She has done all she can to assist in her recovery.

[29] Unfortunately, however, Ms. Guthrie’s injuries have not resolved. They continue to seriously impact her daily life and will likely do so for the foreseeable future. The injuries have affected all facets of her life. She needs accommodation at work, cannot partake in some sports she formerly enjoyed, must avoid certain social events and even has difficulty when she attempts to cuddle with her boyfriend. She is no longer suited for many occupations and requires accommodation to carry out many of the occupations that are still available to her.

[30] In making these findings, I have not overlooked the pictures posted on Ms. Guthrie’s Facebook page concerning her trip to Las Vegas. Those pictures are of limited usefulness. Ms. Guthrie is seeking compensation for what she has lost, not what she can still do. The fact that she can spend a weekend with her friends in Las Vegas does not gainsay her evidence that she continues to suffer from the aftermath of the accident. She should not be punished for trying to get on with her life and enjoying it the best she can regardless of the limitations imposed on her as result of the accident…

[35] While the subject cases are of general assistance and provide a guideline as to the range of damages awarded in cases with some similarities to the case at bar, each case must be decided on its own facts. Of primary importance in this case is the age of the plaintiff, the manner in which the injuries have impacted on her life, and the medical evidence which suggests that any future improvement is unlikely. I note in the cases cited by the defendant the prognosis for the plaintiffs was much more favourable than that concerning Ms. Guthrie. I award $65,000 in non-pecuniary damages.

Some Threats OK, Others Not So Much in Settlement Negotiations

In BC the law provides wide protection over confidential settlement discussions to permit parties in a lawsuit to have full and frank resolution attempts.  Typically settlement discussions made on a ‘without prejudice’ basis are protected by the law of settlement privilege and are not admissible in a subsequent trial.
There are exceptions to this general rule, however, and one such exception relates to communications with”threats of an egregious nature“.  Reasons for judgement were released yesterday by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating this.
In yesterday’s case (Monument Mining Limited v. Balendran Chong & Bodi) the parties were involved in a defamation lawsuit.  In the course of the lawsuit various settlement offers were exchanged.  The Plaintiff sought to introduce these into evidence.  The Defendants opposed arguing these were protected by settlement privilege.  Mr. Justice Goepel concluded the letters contained egregious threats and therefore privilege was lost.  In admitting the letters into evidence the Court provided the following reasons:

[25] In Evergreen Building Ltd. v. IBI Leaseholds Ltd., 2006 BCSC 1190 at para. 16, 58 B.C.L.R. (4th) 294, Kelleher J. said at para. 16:

[16]      Privilege is lost not by making a threat, but by threatening to do something of an egregious nature. For example, a threat to commence an action or to bring a motion does not destroy the privilege attaching to a settlement communication. On the other hand, a threat to commit perjury is not privileged.

[26] I find that the July 12 Letter does contain threats of an egregious nature. The July 12 Letter warns that if the settlement proposal is not accepted, the Clients may  bring claims against Monument, Avocet and their respective directors alleging fraud and other misdeeds and may inform the AIM, the TSX and Haywood Securities Inc. of the alleged fraudulent conduct. Such actions could be devastating for a publically traded company.

[27] Monument and Avocet were not parties to the D8 Litigation.  The reservation of rights set out in the July 12 Letter served no legitimate settlement purpose. The intent of the reservation of rights was to put improper pressure on entities not involved in the D8 Litigation. The threat is of such character that the public interest in its disclosure outweighs the public interest in protecting settlement communications.  Settlement privilege does not extend to the July 12 Letter.

[28] In the result, the Settlement Letters are admissible and will be marked as exhibits 37, 38 and 39 respectively.

Formal Settlement Offers and Costs Consequences: A "Broad Discretion"

Reasons for judgement were released last month by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, discussing the broad discretion that Judges have respecting costs consequences following trial where formal settlement offers have been made.
In last month’s case (Ward v. Klaus) the Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle collision.  Prior to trial ICBC tabled a $493,000 settlement offer.  As trial neared the offer was increased to $595,000.  The Plaintiff rejected these offers and went to trial.  At trial the presiding judge awarded just over $434,000.
ICBC brought an application to be awarded post offer costs.  This would have created a ‘costs swing‘ of $149,000.  Mr. Justice Goepel ultimately stripped the Plaintiff of her post offer costs but did not make her pay the Defendants costs reducing the sting of her failure to best the formal settlement offer.  In demonstrating the ‘broad discretion‘ of Rule 9-1 Mr. Justice Goepel provided the following reasons:

[32] Since its inception in 2008, much ink has been spilled explaining the Rule. LexisNexis Quicklaw presently references some 231 decisions in which the Rule has been discussed. From the decisions, some broad principles of general application have emerged concerning how the Rule should be applied.

[33] It is now generally recognized that the Rule provides for the exercise of a broad discretion by trial judges and provides principles to guide in the exercise of that discretion: Roach v. Dutra, 2010 BCCA 264, 5 B.C.L.R. (5th) 95…

[53] For the reasons I have stated, it cannot be said that the plaintiff should have accepted either offer. That is, however, the beginning, not the end of the analysis. Unlike Rule 37 which mandated the outcome regardless of the circumstances, Rule 9-1 gives the court a broad discretion to determine the consequence of a successful offer to settle. While the Rule is intended to reward the party who makes a reasonable settlement offer and penalizing the party who fails to accept it, the several options set out in Rule 9-1(5) allows the court to determine with greater precision the penalty or reward appropriate in the circumstances.

[54] In this case, regardless of the merits of the plaintiff’s case, the defendant’s offers to settle cannot be ignored. To do so would undermine the purpose of the Rule. Having decided to proceed in the face of two not insignificant and ultimately successful offers to settle, the plaintiff cannot avoid some consequences. That said, in the circumstances of this case, to deprive the plaintiff of her costs and have her in addition pay the costs of the defendant would be too great a penalty. It would not be fair or just to require the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s costs after the date of the First Offer. Similarly, however, I find that the defendant should not pay the costs of the plaintiff after the delivery of the First Offer, which costs were only incurred because the plaintiff decided to proceed.

[55] Accordingly, I find that the plaintiff is entitled to her costs up to May 3, 2010. The parties will bear their own costs thereafter.

Waivers of Liability: The Real World Consequences

(Updated March 15, 2012an Appeal of the below Decision was dismissed in reasons for judgement released today by the BC Court of Appeal)
If you are harmed through the carelessness of others but signed a ‘waiver of liability‘ prior to being harmed you may be deprived of meaningful legal recourse.  For this reason it is vital to turn your mind to the potential consequences prior to accepting the terms of a waiver.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this topic.
In this week’s case (Loychuk v. Cougar Mountain Adventures Ltd.) two plaintiffs were injured in a zipline accident.  The first plaintiff went down the line but did not reach the bottom.  She was suspended on the line.  At this time the tour guides in charge of the zipline let the second plaintiff go down the line.  She had no ability to stop and “slammed into (the first Plaintiff) at high speed causing injury to both“.
The Defendant company agreed their employees were careless and caused the injuries.  They denied compensation to the Plaintiffs, however, relying on a waiver they require every zipline participant to sign. The Plaintiffs brought a lawsuit arguing the waiver should not be enforced.  Mr. Justice Goepel disagreed and dismissed the lawsuit.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

[30]         The Release was consistent with the purpose of the contract, which was to permit the Plaintiffs to engage in a hazardous activity upon which they, of their own volition, had decided to embark. The most casual review of the document would have revealed to the Plaintiffs that the Release was a legal document impacting on their legal rights to sue or claim compensation following an accident. They asked no questions concerning the terms of the Release. They never indicated to Cougar that they were not prepared to sign the Release.

[31]         There is nothing in the circumstances that would lead Cougar to conclude that the Plaintiffs did not intend to agree to what they signed. In these circumstances, Cougar was under no obligation to take reasonable steps to bring the terms of the Release to the Plaintiffs’ attention.

[32]         That said, Cougar did in fact take reasonable steps to bring the contents of the Release to the Plaintiffs’ attention. Both were given sufficient time to read the Release. The heading at the top of the document and the admonition to read carefully alerted the Plaintiffs that it was a legal document intended to prevent the Plaintiffs from suing or claiming compensation following an accident. Both Plaintiffs acknowledge that they knew from their reading of the Release that it limited in certain circumstances their legal rights to sue. In Mayer, which concerned a release in relation to obtaining a ski pass, the release contained terms in bold lettering similar to that in the case at bar. The court noted that the large bold print should have alerted the most casual reader of the release’s terms. The same considerations apply in this case.

[33]         I do not accept the Plaintiffs’ submission that the reasoning in Karroll should be limited to cases involving hazardous activities in which the participant has some measure of control. Karrollis a case of general application. Its reasoning applies to all contracts.

[34]         Subject to the remaining submissions discussed below, I find the Release is enforceable. A reasonable person in the position of Cougar would not have known that the Plaintiffs were not consenting to the terms of the Release. Cougar took appropriate steps to apprise the Plaintiffs of the terms of the Release.

This case demonstrates the reality that liability releases can prevent lawsuits even when individuals are injured through the clear carelessness of others.  For this reason it is vital to consider the effects of a waiver prior to giving up your right to sue.

New Rules of Court Update: Contested Applications At CPC's and TMC's

(Note: this area of law is still developing, for a further case addressing this issue click here)
Two of the biggest changes under the New Supreme Court Rules are the introduction of Case Planning Conferences and mandatory Trial Management Conferences (CPC’s and TMC’s).
The New Rules give the Court significant powers to make various orders with respect to the conduct of lawsuits at these hearings.  Interesting reasons were recently brought to my attention addressing the limit of the Court to address contested matters at CPC’s and TMC’s.
In the recent case (Vernon v. British Columbia (Liquor Distribution Branch)) the Plaintiff sued the Defendant for wrongful dismissal.  As the lawsuit progressed the parties attended a Trial Management Conference.  At the TMC the Defendant asked for various orders including an adjournment of the upcoming trial and a partial publication ban of the trial.  These applicaitons were contested by the Plaintiff.  Mr. Justice Goepel dismissed the applications finding that TMC’s and CPC’s were inappropriate forums for contested applications.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[21]        The issue in this case is whether counsel’s statements provide a sufficient evidentiary foundation for the orders that the defendant seeks. The applications for an adjournment and a publication ban both require the exercise of judicial discretion to consider competing interests. In the case of the adjournment, the contest is between the defendant’s need for additional time to prepare its case and the potential prejudice to the plaintiff if the case is adjourned. With regard to the publication ban, the court must weigh the salutary effect

[22]        The adjournment and publication ban applications both require a proper evidentiary foundation. Statements of counsel alone are not sufficient. To paraphrase Lambert J.A. in Nichols, where statements of counsel stand alone, it will be a rare case that such statements will be sufficient to justify a finding of fact that would permit the exercise of judicial discretion. This is not such a case.

[23]        While CPCs and TMCs have a role to play in the orderly progress of litigation, they are not generally the forum to determine contested applications. Such applications will usually require affidavit evidence and pursuant to the provisions of Rule 12-2(11) and 5-3(2) applications requiring affidavit evidence cannot to be heard at such conferences. In this case affidavit evidence is necessary to determine the defendant’s applications for an adjournment and a publication ban. Those applications cannot be heard at a TMC.

[24]        This is not to say that a judge cannot make orders at a CPC or a TMC. Clearly, a judge can. Many of the orders contemplated at such a conference will not require applications or affidavit evidence. The Rules allow a judge to make an order absent an application. Many of the orders suggested in the respective rules are procedural in nature and more in the nature of directions. Such orders can be based on the representations of counsel. An example is the present application concerning the order of proceedings at trial.

Examinations for Discovery and Location: When Parties Live Outside BC

I recently looked into the issue of location for examinations for discovery where a party to the lawsuit resides out of the Country.  I came across a useful decision (Bronson v. Hewitt) addressing this issue under the former Rules of Court.
In Bronson, a lawsuit was started in the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.  The trial was scheduled to be heard in Vancouver and all the lawyers involved in the case practiced in Vancouver.  The Defendants lived in South Carolina.  The Plaintiff wanted to force the Defendants to come to Vancouver for examination for discovery.  The Defendants opposed arguing the discovery should take place in South Carolina.  Mr. Justice Goepel agreed with the Defendants.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:

Lewis and Browning rely on R. 27(14).  That Rule reads:

Unless the court otherwise orders, or the parties to the examination consent, an examination for discovery shall take place at a location within 10 kilometres of the registry that is nearest to the place where the person to be examined resides.

Lewis and Browning submit that R. 27(14) supports their contention that prima facie a party has a right to be examined at their residence and that the plaintiffs have not filed any material which would lead the court to rule otherwise.

In Banque Indosuez v. Canadian Overseas Airlines Ltd. et al., [1989] B.C.J. No. 930 (S.C.) Skipp L.J.S.C.  reviewed the authorities and concluded:

I respectfully adopt the reasoning of Trainor J. in Hamstra v. B.C. Rugby Union et al., Vancouver Registry C865223 (B.C.S.C.), to the effect that if anyone seeks to vary the prima facie location being the residence of the person sought to be examined the court then looks at what is just and convenient for the person to be examined rather than for the solicitor of the person to be examined.

In Lo v. Lo[1991] B.C.J. No. 3005 (S.C.) Master Wilson stated:

I understand Banque Indosuez to be authority for this principle, that subrule 14 is the primary determinant of the place for the examination for discovery of persons residing outside of British Columbia.

If the prima facie rule is to be changed then the court looks at what is just and convenient for the person to be examined, not for counsel.

I am of a similar view.  The default position is that non-resident parties are entitled to be examined at their place of residence.  This conclusion is consistent with R. 27(26), which sets out that the rules governing discovery apply so far as practical to persons residing outside the province.   One of those rules is R. 27(14) which sets out that absent consent or a court order, a party is entitled to be discovered at the registry nearest to the party’s residence.  There is no reason why a non-resident party should be treated any less generously than a party who resides in British Columbia.  All parties have a prima facie right to be discovered where they reside.

The court does have the power to order that a discovery take place at a different location.  In making such an order, the court’s main consideration is the convenience of the party being examined.  Convenience of counsel is not a proper basis to compel a party to travel to Vancouver for a discovery.

In the circumstances of this case, it would not be just or convenient to compel Ms. Lewis or Ms. Browning to come to Vancouver.  They are entitled to be examined at their place of residence.  Their discovery will be in Greenville, South Carolina.

This decision was based on the former Rules of Court and to my knowledge no reported decisions address the issue of location for discovery under the New Rules.  The result, however, would likely be identical under the New Rules because the former Rule 27(14) is substantively reproduced at Rule 7-2(11) of the New Rules and the former Rule 27(26) is reproduced at Rule 7-2(27) of the New Rules.

Back to Basics – BC Injury Trials and "Relevant" Evidence

If evidence is not relevant it is not admissible at trial.  So what exactly is relevant evidence in a personal injury lawsuit?  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, providing a concise and useful definition.
In today’s case (Beazley v. Suzuki Motor Corporation) the Plaintiff was injured while involved in a single vehicle accident involving a Geo Tracker.  The lawsuit focused on whether the Tracker was safely designed.   In support of her case the Plaintiff wished to put hundreds of documents into evidence.  The Defendants objected to some of these arguing that they were not relevant.
Mr. Justice Goepel went through the objections one by one and ruled that some of the documents were relevant and some were not.  Before reaching his decisions Mr. Justice Goepel provided the following useful definition of relevant evidence:

[15] To be admissible, evidence must be relevant to the facts in issue and not subject to exclusion under any other rule of law or policy.  Evidence is relevant “where it has some tendency as a matter of logic and human experience to make the proposition for which it is advanced more likely than the proposition would appear to be in the absence of that evidence” ( D.M. Paciocco & L. Stuesser, The Law of Evidence (Toronto: Irwin Law,1996) at 19).

[16] In a civil case, the facts in issue are established by the pleadings.  Evidence unrelated to the issues as disclosed in the pleadings is not admissible.

[17] Not all relevant evidence is admissible.  The court must also balance the cost to the trial the process of admitting the evidence.  The judge’s task was described by Sopinka J. in R. v. Mohan, [1994] 2 S.C.R. 9 at 20-21:

Relevance is a matter to be decided by a judge as question of law. Although prima facie admissible if so related to a fact in issue that it tends to establish it, that does not end the inquiry. This merely determines the logical relevance of the evidence. Other considerations enter into the decision as to admissibility. This further inquiry may be described as a cost benefit analysis, that is “whether its value is worth what it costs.” See McCormick on Evidence (3rd ed. 1984), at p. 544. Cost in this context is not used in its traditional economic sense but rather in terms of its impact on the trial process. Evidence that is otherwise logically relevant may be excluded on this basis, if its probative value is overborne by its prejudicial effect, if it involves an inordinate amount of time which is not commensurate with its value or if it is misleading in the sense that its effect on the trier of fact, particularly a jury, is out of proportion to its reliability. While frequently considered as an aspect of legal relevance, the exclusion of logically relevant evidence on these grounds is more properly regarded as a general exclusionary rule (see Morris v. The Queen, [1983] 2 S.C.R. 190). Whether it is treated as an aspect of relevance or an exclusionary rule, the effect is the same.

[18] While the above passage was written in the context of the admissibility of expert evidence, the same principles must be considered in determining the admissibility of any form of evidence.

Do Parties Have to Disclose Documents They Will Use to Impeach Opposing Expert Witnesses?

When a party to a personal injury lawsuit wishes to use documents at trial those documents have to be disclosed to the opposing side as per the BC Supreme Court Rules otherwise the evidence may not be admissible.  Two recent cases from the BC Court of Appeal have clearly highlighted this.  Today, reasons for judgement were released by the BC Supreme Court considering the scope of documents that need to be disclosed.
In today’s case (Beazley v. Suzuki Motor Coroporation) the Plaintiff called a witness to give expert evidence.  The witness testified that he had limited knowledge of something known as the “Critical Sliding Velocity standard” and that he had “never proposed such a standard to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration“.
On cross-examination the Defence lawyer produced a letter written by the witness addressed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration apparently “supporting the use of a Critical Sliding Velocity Standard“.
The Plaintiff’s lawyer objected to this cross examination arguing that the letter was not listed on the Defendant’s list of documents and therefore could not be used.  Mr. Justice Goepel disagreed finding that documents that are used solely for impeaching an expert wittiness’ credibility do not necessarily have to be listed.  Specifically the Court reasoned as follows:

[7] A party is obliged to list all documents that fall within the purview of Rule 26(1) including those documents that can properly be described as forming part of the solicitor’s brief: Stone v. Ellerman, 2009 BCCA 294, 92 B.C.L.R. (4th) 203; Dykeman v. Porohowski, 2010 BCCA 36. Neither Stone, Dykeman or the cases cited therein deal with the use of documents being introduced to impeach the general credibility of an expert witness.

[8] A party who chooses to call an expert vouches for that expert’s credibility. The type and nature of documents that might challenge such credibility are endless. They may include articles, letters, testimony, speeches or statements that the expert has made in the past. There may be other articles which critically challenge the expert’s conclusion. Most documents which go to challenge an expert’s opinion or credibility are not documents which are related to the matter in question in the action. They only become relevant because of the expert’s testimony and do not fall under the purview of Rule 26.

[9] This ruling does not apply to all documents that the defendants may wish to put to this or other witnesses. If a document is otherwise related to a matter in question, it is not protected from disclosure merely because it will be used in cross examination or forms part of the solicitor’s brief.

[10] The August 5, 1994 letter, however, only becomes relevant because of Mr. Heitzman’s testimony. It was not a document that need be listed and the defendant is entitled to use the document in cross examination.

[11] To the extent the plaintiffs object to other documents the defendants might wish to put to Mr. Heitzman, those objections will be dealt with as they arise.

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