Tag: Rule 12-1

No Adjournment For Unilaterally Scheduled Trial During Defence Counsels Possible Vacation Time

Reasons for judgement were published today dismissing an adjournment application for a trial that was unilaterally set down during a time that opposing counsel kept free for a possible vacation.  In part the Court noted that the vacation plans may very well be off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In today’s case (Henderson v. Fisher) the Plaintiff claimed damages for injuries sustained in a collision.  The matter was set for trial on January, 2020 but this was adjourned because no judge was available.  The parties could not agree on a date to reset the trial for.  The Plaintiff unilaterally set the matter down for September, 2020, a month that the Defence lawyer booked off “for a personal vacation out of the country“.  An application to adjourn was dismissed with the Court noting the vacation plans may very well be thwarted due to Covid19.

In dismissing the application Mr. Justice Branch provided the following reasons:

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Trial Adjourned After Plaintiff “Comedy of Errors” Leads to Lack of Medico-Legal Evidence

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, granting a trial adjournment after a plaintiff failed to obtain needed medico-legal evidence.

In today’s case (Raniga v. Poirier) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2015 collision.  The Defendant admitted fault.  As the trial neared plaintiff’s counsel realizes they failed to obtain medico-legal evidence and could not in time for trial.  The Defendant would not consent to adjournment but the court granted the requested despite the ‘comedy of errors‘ creating the situation.   Despite the court being critical of the evidence and circumstances presented in favour of the request one of the key reasons in granting it was the failure of the Defendant to point to any real prejudice who simply relied on an affidavit of an administrative assistant at the defence firm who had “no personal knowledge of the matters set out in her affidavit“.

In declining to award the Defendant any costs the Court went so far as to say that despite the shortcomings of the circumstances leading to the request “It should have been obvious from the outset that an adjournment would be granted.

In granting the adjournment Mr. Justice Kent provided the following reasons:

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How Do You Restore A Trial Date if You Failed to File a Trial Certificate?

The BC Supreme Court Rules require a trial certificate to be filed at least 14 days before a scheduled trial date.  Failure to do so requires the matter to be removed from the trial list ‘unless the court otherwise orders‘.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Nanaimo Registry, addressing the framework which permits the Court to restore a trial date after if it has been removed from the trial list.  In short the Court relied on its power under Rule 12-1(9)(b) to “fix the date of a trial proceeding” to remedy the problem.
In this weeks case (Knowles v. Lan) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision.  Prior to trial ICBC sought to have the matter adjourned but the application was dismissed.  The Plaintiff’s lawyer then forgot to file a trial certificate and the matter was removed from the trial list.  Mr. Justice Halfyard restored the trial date and in doing so provided the following reasons addressing the proper framework for such a remedy:
[24]         The first question is whether Rule 12-4 (5) gives the court power to restore a proceeding to the trial list, after it has been removed for non-compliance with Rule 12-4 (2). I would say firstly that, because of the mandatory wording in Rule 12-4, the filing of at least one trial certificate is a necessary condition for a trial to proceed. As a consequence, I do not think the court could dispense with the filing of any trial certificate, but could only grant leave to file it less than 14 days before trial.
[25]         In my opinion, a party who seeks to have a trial restored to the trial list must first obtain leave to file a trial certificate “late,” under Rule 22-4 (2). If such leave is granted, and a trial certificate is filed in accordance with the order, that filing would not have the effect of restoring the trial to the trial list from which it had been removed. Could the court make such a restoration order, under Rule 12-4 (5)?
[26]         In my opinion, Rule 12-4 (5) should be read so as to include the additional underlined words, as follows:
(5)  Unless the court otherwise orders, if no party of record files a trial certificate in accordance with sub-rule (2), the trial must be removed from the trial list.
[27]         In my view, Rule 12-4 (5) is designed to prevent an action being removed from the trial list for failure to file a trial certificate as required by subrule (2). It does not state that, if a trial has been removed from the trial list, the court may restore that trial to the trial list. Nor do I think that such a power is implicit in that subrule. In order to preserve a trial date by invoking this Rule, I think the application and the order would have to be made before the 14 day deadline. That was not done here, and so this rule cannot be relied upon…
[29]         It may be that Rule 1-3 provides inherent jurisdiction to make an order restoring this action to the trial list for March 4, 2013. But it seems to me that Rule 12-1 (9) provides specific authority to do this. Subrule (9)(b) states:
(9)  The court may
. . .
(b) fix the date of trial of a proceeding,
. . .
[30]         When this action was struck off the trial list, there was no longer any date scheduled for the trial. The subrule I have just referred to does, in my opinion, empower the court to fix a date for the trial of this proceeding which coincides with the previously – scheduled trial date of March 4, 2013. I would rely on that subrule in making the order to reinstate this action for trial on March 4, 2013.
[31]         Authority might also be found in Rule 22-7(2)(e), which states in relevant part as follows:
(2)  . . .  if there has been a failure to comply with these . . . Rules, the court may

. . .

(e) make any other order it considers will further the object of these . . .  Rules.
[32]         In my opinion, the reasons I have outlined support the orders that I made on February 27, 2013.

Sensible Compromise Suggested in Face of Late Medical Developments

When medical developments unfold deep in the litigation process it is not uncommon for adjournment applications to be granted.  Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing such a situation urging parties to make reasonable compromises to accommodate these developments.
In the recent case (Dhillon v. Bowering) the Plaintiff was injured in two collisions that the Defendants admitted fault for.  In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff was assessed by an orthopaedic surgeon who felt some of the Plaintiff’s symptoms may be due to a possible labral tear.  An MRI was suggested.  The Plaintiff obtained an MRI which did indeed show bilateral labral tears.   The Plaintiff served an updated medical report addressing this.  This report, however, was authored and served outside the timelines required by the Rules of Court due to the timing of the MRI.
The Defendants requested a defence medical exam to address this issue.  The Plaintiff consented to this late examination provided the Defendants did not object to the late report the Plaintiff served.  The Defendant did not agree to these terms and instead brought an adjournment application.  Master Taylor refused to adjourn the trial noting the Plaintiff bore some risk in proceeding as the Plaintiff’s late report may not be admitted.  In suggesting compromise in such cases Master Taylor provided the following reasons:
[12]         So on one hand we do not have Dr. Shuckett’s report in evidence, and now we have defendants asking for an adjournment so that they can do what they need to do to buttress their case because of the report of Dr. Shuckett, which is not in evidence.
[13]         In my view, this problem could have been easily resolved by both parties agreeing to the late service of Dr. Shuckett’s report as well as the DME report from Dr. O’Brien and the matter would have proceeded.  Now we are faced with an adjournment application of a trial that is 11 days away, the first accident which occurred more than five years ago…
[18]         Well, with the greatest of respect to counsel, I do not know if prejudice would be an operating theme here in this application.  I think what is more to the point, and I pointed that out to counsel at the early stage of this application, is that, first of all, there is a hurdle that plaintiffs have to get over before a defendant should be even concerned about this fact.  The fact that they have not had a DME with respect to a labral tear in the left hip is not so much their concern but rather the causal connection.  I have not seen anything in any of the reports that would be suggestive in any way whatsoever that there is anything but the accident as a causal connection.  Now, if that is the only reason, ultimately, that the defendants are relying upon for an application for adjournment in this matter, then I think the defendants do not succeed in their application.
[19]         Accordingly, I dismiss the application for adjournment, and I will award costs to the plaintiff in any event of the cause, not payable forthwith. 
 

Unknown Prognosis a Barrier to Quantum Trials, But Not Liability


Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing the fact that an unknown prognosis is a true barrier to a personal injury quantum claim proceeding to trial.
In this week’s case (Dazham v. Nachar) the Plaintiff sued the Defendant for injuries sustained in a 2009 collision.  Fault was disputed.  As the matter approached trial the Plaintiff sought an adjournment arguing that the matter was not yet ready as the Plaintiff’s physicians were unable to comment on his prognosis.  The Court agreed but instead of adjourning the entire matter severed the issues of quantum and liability and ordered that the trial proceed solely on the issue of fault.  In doing so Master Baker provided the following reasons:
[12]         Nevertheless, I have concluded that this is not one of those cases where the injuries can be said to have plateaued, that it is now just a matter of waiting. That is not the case to me at all. Both physicians have indicated further surgical intervention. They have also indicated that that is a contingency; in essence  a) whether the cortisone injections work; and b) whatever the MRI says.
[13]         So by no means are we at a point where the extent of Mr. Dazham’s injuries and their expected recovery can be given with satisfactory accuracy. I just do not think we are there yet.
[14]         As I say, the liability is very much in issue, and why it is generally the situation or circumstance that the court prefers not to sever issues, when we have a lay witness, when we have such an active issue. I think it is in everyone’s interest that that matter be resolved first, and then as a consequence, rather than adjourn the matter, that the issues of liability and quantum be severed and that the matter of liability proceed.
[15]         With respect, I adopt Mr. Justice Finch’s comments in Radke v. M.S., 2006 BCCA 12 at paragraph 24, in which he comments that:
If the plaintiff’s injuries have not resolved to the point where damages can fairly be tried, the parties may still try the liability issues while the events are fresh in the witnesses’ memories.
[16]         I understand Ms. Meade’s concerns about credibility being an important aspect, both as to liability and as to damages, but I can’t see that that is a sufficient concern or basis for not severing. I also think severing is the appropriate approach, rather than adjourning, as I have already said.
[17]         As a consequence, there will be an order directing that the issues be severed.
You can click here to read my archived posts addressing adjournment applications and severance applications in the BC Courts.
 

$50,000 Damage Advance Ordered As Term of Adjournment of Personal Injury Claim


Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing the Court’s power to order a damage advance to a Plaintiff as a term of an adjournment order.
In last week’s case (Wood Atkinson v. Murphy) the Plaintiff suffered bilateral wrist fractures in a 2006 collision.  The Defendant admitted full fault for the crash.  The matter was set for trial but ultimately had to be adjourned due to difficulties in obtaining the Plaintiff’s employment records.  As a term of adjournment the Court ordered that the Defendant pay the Plaintiff a $50,000 advance.  In doing so Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie provided the following reasons:

[42] Serban v. Casselman (1995), 2 B.C.L.R. (3d) 316 (C.A.) confirmed the jurisdiction of this Court to order advance payments on damages under former Rule 1(12) (now Rule 13-1(19)) as a term of an adjournment of a trial. The advance must be just in all of the circumstances, and the judge making the order must be completely satisfied that there is no possibility the final assessment of damages would be less than the amount of the advance payments. There is no requirement that the cause of the adjournment be the fault of one party, see Serban, at paras. 9-11.

[43] Further guidance is found in the following excerpt from Master Barber’s decision in Tieu v. Jaeger et al., 2003 BCSC 906, at para. 17:

With liability not being in issue, the plaintiff should be put in funds at the earliest possible time. That is a reasonable thing for the plaintiff to ask for. The only thing that is stopping her from getting this money is not a determination of whether she is entitled to it, but as to how much. When it has been conceded that the sum of $20,000 is probably going to be less than or at least one-half of what the future amount she will obtain of $40,000 plus is, I can see no reason not to give her at least $20,000 at this time. To keep her out of pocket means that, especially when need is shown, as it has been in her affidavit, would be a refusal of justice.

[44] In this case, liability has been admitted, and it will be almost seven years from the date of the accident to the conclusion of the trial. The plaintiff is employed, but has problems with chronic pain in her wrists. Counsel are in agreement that an advance is justified in these circumstances.  The remaining issue is the amount that would be just in the circumstances, ensuring that it not be in excess of the potential award for damages at trial.

[45] In my view, an advance of $50,000 is appropriate in all the circumstances.

More on ICBC Claim Adjournments: Discretion and Court Ordered Conditions


Rule 12-1(9) gives the BC Supreme Court the discretion to adjourn trials.  When asked for an adjournment the Court must balance the interests of the parties.   When adjourning a trial the Court can attach a variety of conditions which can even include damage advancements in personal injury lawsuits.  Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing this area of law.
In today’s case (Kailay v. ICBC) the Plaintiff was injured in two separate motor vehicle collisions.   The matter was set for trial previously but was adjourned following an application by ICBC.
The Plaintiff became pregnant shortly before the rescheduled trial and this apparently aggravated some of her accident related stress and psychological symptoms.  ICBC argued a further adjournment was necessary as a result of this development.  Master Baker agreed and granted ICBC a second adjournment, however, the Court attached several conditions to this order.  In doing so Master Baker discussed the Court’s ability to attach terms to adjournments and provided the following reasons:
[12] Taking these various positions, I am satisfied of the following. First, the court’s jurisdiction to make an order for conditions of an adjournment that include advances, whether to meet specific costs and expenses, or as simple advances on likely general damages cannot be seriously disputed. ..
13]         I do not accept that liability must be absolutely established before an advance can be ordered. The real issue, in such a case, is: in the event the plaintiff is unsuccessful, can the advance be recovered? I see no reason why that would not be the case here, particularly assuming that any advance would be accompanied by an undertaking from Ms. Kailay in that respect…

[19]         As a consequence of the above, I direct that the conditions of the adjournment will be:

1.       The defence will fund up to 30 further counselling sessions at up to $200.00 per session;

2.       Ms. Kailay will receive $20,000.00 toward her general damages claim;

3.       The defence will advance $10,000.00 toward Ms. Kailay’s costs incurred to date, including, of course, her experts’ fees;

4.       Ms. Kailay will give her undertaking that, in the event her claim fails at trial or that advances to date (including the above) exceed the damages awarded by the court, she will repay the advances as required.

These are the conditions of the adjournment. If, for any reason, the defence does not acknowledge and accept them by March 7 the trial will continue on April 4 as currently scheduled.

[20]         Costs of this application will be costs in the cause.

Injury Trial Adjourned Due to Delayed Medico-Legal Report


Reasons for judgement were recently published by the BC Supreme Court addressing the adjournment of a personal injury trial where the Plaintiff’s independently retained physician failed to author a medico-legal report in a timely fashion.
In the recent case (Barlow v. Smoch) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2006 collision.  He was the passenger in a vehicle which collided with a dump truck-trailer.  He apparently suffered serious injuries including a “severe traumatic brain injury with left sided hemiparesis“.
In the course of the lawsuit the Plaintiff hired a variety of independent experts to provide medico-legal opinion evidence at trial.  One of the experts was a physiatrist who assessed the Plaintiff.  The Plaintiff requested a report however no report was provided within the timelines required by the Rules of Court.  The Plaintiff’s other experts required the physiatrist’s report in order to finalize their opinions.  Because the physiatrist did not author the report in a timely fashion the Plaintiff was unable to adequately prepare his case for trial.
The Plaintiff brought an adjournment application.  The Defendant opposed, arguing an adjournment would be prejudicial.  Master Caldwell ultimately granted the adjournment finding that neither party were to blame for the need of the adjournment and that keeping the current trial date would result in prejudice to the Plaintiff.  In granting the adjournment the Court had the following critical comments for the Plaintiff’s expert:

[20]         The determination I have to make now is whether the plaintiff would be so prejudiced by having this matter proceed to trial, in light of all of the circumstances, or whether the defendant would be prejudiced to the extent that there would be some waning of the memory of the defendant Hilborn.

[21]         Remembering of course that the plaintiff is a severely brain?injured individual with hemiparesis, it would behoove me ultimately to weigh the prejudice in favour of the plaintiff and make a determination that the trial ought to be adjourned, not through any fault of counsel or the parties, but more I think because there is an unexplained failure to provide a report following a medical assessment by a medical professional.

[22]         When I say unexplained, I do not say that meaning plaintiff’s counsel has not explained it; I mean (the physiatrist) has not explained her lack of attention to requests for the report following her assessment of the plaintiff on the 31st of May last, which I think is unacceptable.

[23]         I say parenthetically that this may be a matter that counsel and the parties should be taking up with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, because in this case it is, without a doubt, in my view, (the physiatrist’s) lack of production of the document requested that has ultimately resulted in the adjournment of the trial.

[24]         As for costs, there is not a lot of blameworthy conduct here over which costs could be assessed.  I think every party has had a legitimate rationale for having the positions they have taken with respect to the particular application, which I find to be somewhat unique in the circumstances.  So I will say that I think each party should bear its own costs of this application.

Uncertain Prognosis Results in Injury Trial Adjournment


As previously discussed, it is risky to settle an ICBC claim prior to knowing the long-term prognosis of your injuries.  Without a prognosis it is difficult to value a case and therfore difficult to gauge a fair settlement amount.
The same caution holds true for taking a case to trial.  Absent recovery or a meaningful prognosis it will be difficult for a judge or jury to properly value the claim.  If a case is set for trial but the prognosis is unknown an adjournment can often be obtained pursuant to Rule 12-1(9).  This was demonstrated in short but useful reasons for judgement released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.
In last week’s case (Cochrane v. Heir) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2006 collision.  She was scheduled to undergo surgery in February, 2011 and her lawsuit was set for trial shortly thereafter.  The Plaintiff was concerned that her prognosis would not be known at the time of trial and applied to adjourn.  The Defendant opposed arguing that the upcoming surgery was not related to the collision and the adjournment was not necessary.
Mr. Justice Harris concluded that ultimately it would be for the jury to decide whether the surgery was related to the crash, however, since it may be related an adjournment was in the interests of justice.  The Court provided the following reasons:

[3] There is some medical evidence before the court to the effect that the plaintiff’s condition, prognosis and ability to return to work cannot fairly be assessed until after the surgery and after sufficient time has been allowed for rehabilitation.

[4] Counsel for the defendant opposes the adjournment because this is, he submits, a unique case. In a nutshell, he says that the delays and behaviour of the plaintiff in presenting the case are characteristic of her conduct in other matters she has been involved in. In effect, he submits that I should discount the evidence in support of the adjournment. In particular, I should be sceptical of the suggestion of any causal link between the accident and the condition that has led to the proposed surgery, as well as the need or the surgery itself. All an adjournment will do is expand the trial and encourage further delay and obstruction in bringing this matter to trial.

[5] Since I have decided that the interests of justice require an adjournment and since I am the trial judge, albeit with a jury, I have concluded that it would be unwise to comment directly on the evidence referred to by the parties in support of their positions. The issue of the causal connection between the accident, the plaintiff’s current condition and her alleged inability to work, are the primary matters that will be before the court for adjudication. Not to grant an adjournment would work relatively greater prejudice to the plaintiff than to the defendants by constraining her opportunity fully to present her case whatever its merits at trial.

The BC Supreme Court and Adjournments of Lengthy Trials: The "20-Plus" Program

I’ve previously written about adjournment applications in the BC Supreme Court and that Judges hearing such applications must consider a “balancing (of) the interests of the parties” . Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court indicating that, at least with lengthy trials, a third factor is in play; specifically the “public interest” must be considered.
In this week’s case (Jones v. Donaghey) the Plaintiff sued for damages claiming he was seriously brain damaged when one of the Defendant’s assaulted him.   The Plaintiff was a newborn at the time of the alleged assault and would be four years old at the time of the proposed trial.
The defendants sought an adjournment of the trial arguing that further time was needed in order to obtain proper medical evidence.  Ultimately Mr. Justice Macaulay disagreed and refused the adjournment application.  Prior to doing so, however, the Court indicated that the interests of not only the parties must be considered in adjournment applications of lengthy trials, but also the public interest.  Mr. Justice Macaulay provided the following useful reasons:

[3] Although I address the balancing of the interests of the parties separately below, the public interest is also impacted by the scheduling, and any potential rescheduling of lengthy trials. Considerable public and judicial resources are tied up in the intensive pre-trial management and conduct of trials under what is colloquially known as the “20-plus” program. The court instituted the program some time ago to assist in the management and scheduling of complex civil cases.

[4] Generally, in my view, every effort should be made to avoid the adjournment of trials once set under the program, as litigants in other cases have had to forgo the opportunity to set down their applications or trials for hearing, because either or both the trial management judge’s rota time and court time have been reserved for a 20?plus case.

[5] In more general terms, perhaps, Levine J., as she then was, referred to the need to consider such broader interests of justice when deciding an adjournment application respecting a long trial in Strata Plan VR No. 2000 v. Shaw, at para. 26. Justice Dorgan referred to the above with apparent approval in denying a defence application for an adjournment in J.S. (Guardian ad litem of) v. D.S., at para 17.

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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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