Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, further judicially shaping document disclosure obligations under the new rules of court.
In last week’s case (Bains v. Hookstra) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2009 motor vehicle collision. The Plaintiff agreed to produce his MSP Printout, Pharmanet Records and WCB records from the time of the crash onwards. The Defendant was not satisfied with this timeframe and sought these records from before the collision. In support of their application the Defendant produced evidence that the Plaintiff was involved in two collisions in the year prior to the accident at issue in the lawsuit. The Defendant plead that there was a pre-existing injury but the Court noted this was done in a “very pro-forma way“.
Master Muir ultimately rejected the application finding that evidence of previous collisions leads to no more than “mere speculation” of a pre-existing injury. In dismissing the application the Court provided the following reasons:  The applicant must demonstrate a connection between the documents sought and the issues beyond a “mere possibility”: Przybysz v. Crowe, 2011 BCSC 731 at para. 45, referencing Gorse v. Straker, 2010 BCSC 119 at para. 53, and, as was noted by Master Bouck in Edwards v. Ganzer, 2012 BCSC 138, at para. 51, “there must be some ‘air of reality’ between the documents and the issues in the action ….”  The plaintiff has clearly denied that he was suffering from any pre-existing injury at the time of the accident in question or for two years prior. He has further denied that he made any WCB claim during that two-year period.  The evidence put forward by the defendant does no more than raise the mere possibility of a prior existing condition. In the circumstances of the plaintiff’s denial, that evidence is insufficient to warrant an order for the production of the documents sought.  The defendant’s application is therefore dismissed
Further to my previous post on this topic, reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing whether MSP records were producible in a personal injury claim.
Today’s case provides perhaps the most in depth analysis of the issue to date and is worth reviewing in full. In short the Court held that such records may be disclosable given the right circumstances but a ‘pro forma’ pleading of pre-existing injury is not sufficient to trigger disclosure obligations.
In this week’s case (Kaladjian v. Jose) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision. The Defendant applied for production of the Plaintiff’s MSP printout. The Plaintiff’s lawyer had this document but did not produce it arguing it was not relevant. The Defendant’s application was dismissed at first instance. The Defendant appealed arguing MSP records were disclosable as a matter of course in a personal injury claim. Mr. Justice Davies disagreed and dismissed the appeal. In doing so the Court provided feedback as to the proper procedure when seeking production of such records and gave the following reasons:
Under Rule 7-1(1)(a), a party is now (at least initially) obligated to list only:
(i) all documents that are or have been in the party’s possession or control and that could, if available, be used by any party of record at trial to prove or disprove a material fact, and
(ii) all other documents to which the party intends to refer at trial, …
That change has altered the test in British Columbia for determining whether any document or class of documents must now (at least at first instance) be disclosed.
As stated by Edwards J. in Creed, the former broad test of relevance for disclosure purposes, emanated from the decision in Cie Financière du Pacifique v. Peruvian Guano Ltd (1882), 11 Q.B.D. 55 (Eng. Q.B.) [Peruvian Guano], which required disclosure of documents that “may fairly lead to a line of inquiry which may “either directly or indirectly enable the party…to advance his own case or damage the case of his adversary”
Rule 7-1(1) changed that test for documentary relevance at first instance by requiring listing only of documents that could be used at trial to prove or disprove a material fact and documents the disclosing party intends to rely upon at trial.
I say that the test of documentary relevance is changed “at first instance” because Rule 7-1 also provides processes by which broader disclosure can be demanded of a party under Rules 7-1(11) through (14) under which the court can decide whether, and if so, to what extent, broader disclosure should be made…
The introduction of the concept of proportionality into the present Rules together with the need for a party to satisfy the court that additional document discovery beyond a party’s initial obligations under Rule 7-1(1) must inform the interpretation of Rule 7-1(18). It also satisfies me that cases decided under the former Rule 26(11) are of limited assistance in interpreting and applying Rule 7-1(18) in motor vehicle cases.
It would, in my view, be arbitrary and inconsistent with the objects of the present Rules if the production of the records of a party to litigation in the possession of third parties were to be subject to a pleadings-only Peruvian Guano based test of relevance when more narrow tests govern the production of a party’s own documents…
After considering the authorities and submissions of counsel, I have concluded that the pleadings continue to govern the determination of issues of relevance in relation to the scope of examination for discovery under the present Rules and will usually also govern issues concerning the initial disclosure obligations of a party under Rule 7-1(1), if challenged by a party under Rule 7-1(10).
I have also concluded that the narrowing of the discovery obligations of parties and most particularly the removal of the Peruvian Guano “train of inquiry” test of relevance will generally require a defendant to provide some evidence to support an application for additional documents, whether demand is made under Rule 7-1(11) or Rule 7-1(18).
A requirement for evidentiary support recognizes the difference between the scope of examination for discovery and the scope of document discovery under the present Rules and will allow considerations of proportionality to be addressed in specific cases.
A requirement for evidentiary support in requests for additional documents and third party records also prevents against unwarranted “fishing expeditions” based solely upon pro formapleadings…
70]The all too common pro forma pleading of a pre-existing condition by defendants is not sufficient without more to require disclosure of MSP records which may prove to be wholly irrelevant to the injuries allegedly suffered by the plaintiff.
Two documents that ICBC routinely asks Plaintiff’s to produce in the course of personal injury lawsuits are MSP and Pharmanet Printouts. These are documents which essentially keep track of all of a Plaintiff’s medical visits and prescription medication fillings. Does a Plaintiff need to comply with a request to produce these documents? Reasons for judgement were released last month by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, addressing this issue finding that these documents are not automatically producible but very well may be depending on the facts of the case.
In last month’s case (Edwards v. Ganzer) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2008 collision. In the course of the lawsuit ICBC requested that the Plaintiff produce her MSP and Pharmanet Printouts for various periods of time. Ultimately the Plaintiff was required to produce some of these records. Prior to making the production order Master Bouck provided the following reasons addressing production requests for these records:
Thus, in a personal injury action, a plaintiff’s MSP and Med Profile will not be ordered produced to the defence regardless of the facts of the case. At the very least, there must be some “air of reality” between the documents and the issues in the action: Moukhine v. Collins at para. 22.
Correspondingly, decisions where the production of these kinds of records have been denied will likely have little or no precedential value to the plaintiff here as the facts are bound to differ from those in the case at bar.
Neither of these propositions represents a change in the law since the introduction of the SCCR.
What is new to this discussion is the role that proportionality plays in making an order under Rule 7-1(14). Although not specifically provided for in Rule 7-1, it is only logical that the court should take into account the objects stated in Rule 1?3 (2) when exercising its discretion with respect to compliance with the broader disclosure demand: see Kim v. Lin, 2010 BCSC 1386 at para. 29. Indeed, those objectives have been considered by the court in the decisions already cited.
In terms of relevancy, the plaintiff has already acknowledged the relevancy of the MSP and Med Profile records by disclosing these records on her initial list of documents. It would seem apparent that the plaintiff concedes that this document ought to be produced under the Guano test.
While the plaintiff’s submissions suggest that privacy concerns come into play, there is no evidence from the plaintiff herself (either directly or on information and belief) which might justify aHalliday form of order: Gorse v. Straker, 2010 BCSC 119 at paras. 12, 13 and 36.
Paraphrasing the test set out in Global Pacific, the issue to be determined is whether the MSP and/or Med Profile records sought can properly be said to contain information which mayenable the defendant to advance his case or damage the case of the plaintiff, if it is a document which may fairly lead to a train of inquiry, or if it may have either of these consequences.
Both the evidence and pleadings raised issues of mitigation (i.e. rehabilitation efforts; following professional advice on medication). In that respect, both the MSP and Med Profile record may enable the defence to prove that the plaintiff has failed to mitigate her damages. In addition, these records may serve the purpose described in Creed v. Dorio; that is, to test the credibility and reliability of the evidence presented by the plaintiff to date on her post-accident health.
I have concluded that on the facts of this case, the plaintiff’s MSP record and the post-accident Med Profile ought to be listed and produced pursuant to the demand made under Rule 7-1(11).
If you would like further information or require assistance, please get in touch.
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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