Tag: Rule 11-6(10)

Objections on Expert Qualifications Must Be Raised Under Timelines of Rule 11-6(10)

Interesting reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing the scope and timing of objections required under Rule 11-6(10).
In today’s case (Pausch v. Vancouver Coastal Health Authority) the Plaintiff tendered the report of an expert discussing the standard of care of MRI technologists.  The Defendant failed to raise an objection of the expert’s qualifications under the timelines set out in Rule 11-6(10).  The Defendant argued that this rule was “limited to objections on the contents of the report” and did not apply to expert qualifications.  Madam Justice Sharma disagreed and found the rule did apply to qualification objections.  In reaching this conclusion the Court provided the following reasons:

[13]         Turning to the question of whether Rule 11-6(10) and (11) applies to objections of qualifications, I conclude that it does.

[14]         In my view, no difference can be drawn between an objection to the admissibility of the report, and an objection to an expert’s qualification with regard to Rule 11-6(10). In order to be admissible, any opinion evidence must come from a properly qualified expert. Qualification is a prerequisite to admissibility.

[15]         The wording of Rule 11-6(10) and (11) is mandatory. In my view, the phrase “objection to the admissibility of the expert’s evidence” necessarily includes objections based on inadequate qualifications of the expert. Indeed, the expert’s qualifications are required to form part of his or her report:  Rule 11-6(1)(a) and (b). I find therefore, that the defendant here ought to have given notice of the objections to the expert’s qualifications.

The Court went on to find that, despite the lack of a proper objection, the Court retains “an overriding discretion to admit opinion evidence when the rules have not been followed, or refuse to admit it when there has been compliance.” and that “It is the duty of the trial judge to ensure evidence admitted onto the record is both relevant and admissible but the plaintiff has the burden of establishing that Mr. Myszkowski is qualified as an expert.” whether or not a timely objection was raised.

Costs Threats Against Expert Witnesses An Abuse of Process

In the first case I have seen addressing this issue, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, striking out language in correspondence between lawyers as an abuse of process.
In today’s case (Walker v. Doe) the Plaintiff objected via letter sent to Defence counsel to the admissibility of Defense expert reports, and as part of the “boilerplate” objections Plaintiff’s counsel noted that “we shall seek sanctions personally against [expert’s name], including but not limited to special costs“.
In finding that the Rules of Court allow a Judge to strike out language in such a letter Mr. Justice Butler reasoned as follows:
[7]             Letters sent by counsel to provide notice of objection to the admissibility of an expert report are required to be served pursuant to R. 11-6(10). The notice must set out “any objection to the admissibility of the expert’s evidence that the party receiving the report … intends to raise at trial.” The notice required by the Rule is a document mandated by the Rules in which a party must set out their position for trial.
[8]             Rule 9-5(1) is not limited to pleadings but also applies to petitions and “other documents”. Document is defined in R. 1-1(1) in broad terms. There is no doubt the notice required under R. 11-6(10) is a document pursuant to that definition. However, the word must be interpreted ejusdem generis in the context of the phrase, “pleading, petition or other document”. Applying that aid to interpretation, I conclude that “other document” refers to documents which are required by the Rules to formally set out a party’s position, claim or defence. The notice under R. 11-6 (10) is such a document.
In finding the costs threat amounted to an abuse of process the Court provided the following reasons:
[15]         In conclusion, expert witnesses play an important role in the litigation process. When an expert is properly qualified within an area of expertise and the expert’s opinion evidence, which is not otherwise excluded, meets the essential criteria of relevance and necessity in assisting the trier of fact, it can be admitted to assist the court: R. v. Mohan, [1994] 2 S.C.R. 9. The Rules establish a process which provides adequate notice of expert opinions and sets up a way to challenge admissibility. There is no need to introduce into the process, by way of boilerplate language in notices under R. 11-6(10), threats of claims against experts for special costs. As I have already noted, it is entirely unnecessary. Further, it has the potential to frustrate the litigation process because it may discourage the participation of expert witnesses. In addition, and contrary to the intent of the new Rules, it would seem to place the expert in an adversarial position.
 

Expert Report Admissibility Can Be Determined in Advance of UMP Arbitration

In my continued efforts to create a searchable UMP Rulings Database, I summarize a 2009 ruling finding that expert report admissibility can be determined ahead of a scheduled arbitration.
In the 2009 decision (COSH v. ICBC) the Claimant was injured in a 2001 collision in California.   In the course of the proceeding the Claimant served an expert report from a rehabilitation consultant discussing future care needs.  ICBC brought an application seeking to exclude the report arguing it should be held “wholly inadmissible“.  The Plaintiff argued that the report should be admitted but in any event it was premature to decide the issue until Arbitration was underway and the report was formally tendered.
Arbitrator Yule ultimately held that the report was admissible but that certain portions went beyond the authors area of expertise.   Prior to reaching this decision Arbitrator Yule provided the following comments about adjudicating these applications prior to arbitration:
25. …I do not consider the fact that the report may never be introduced into evidence under Rule 40A(2) because COSH may elect to treat the report as notice and introduce Dr. V’s opinions viva voce at the Hearing under Rule 40A(3), as a reason for declining to address the Respondent’s objections.  In either instance there will arise the same question of admissibility, ie. whether some of his expressed opinions are outside the area of exprtise as outlined in the CV.  If his evidence were tendered through Dr. V. at the Hearing, the only difference would be that Dr. V. would give evidence and be questioned about his qualificaitons in the course of determining the scope of his admissible opinions.  However, the fundamental proposition of which the Respondent relies is that some of the opinions expressed in Dr. V’s report can only be properly given by someone wiht a degree in medicine and it is not disputed that Dr. V. does not hold such a degree.
26.  It also seems to me beneficial to both parties to know in advance of the new Hearing date whether the Respondent’s objection will be sustained….Some clarity on the admissibility of Dr. V’s opinions may assist both parties in determining what additional steps they wish to take in preparation for the new Hearing.

Contact

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.

“Work hard, be kind and enjoy the ride!”
Erik’s Philosophy

Disclaimer