Trial Venue Not Changed Due to "Overwhelming Cost of Expert Evidence"

Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing a change of venue application due to the ‘overwhelming cost of expert evidence‘.
In today’s case (Gaebel v. Lipka) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2011 collision which occurred in Powell River.  Both the Plaintiff, Defendant and some lay witnesses resided in Powell River.  The trial was scheduled to take place in Vancouver where the majority of expert witnesses involved in the case practiced.  The Defendant argued the trial ought to be moved to Powell River given the location of the majority of lay witnesses.  Master Muir dismissed the application citing a concern of the cost of producing experts to attend the out of town location.  In dismissing the application the Court provided the following reasons:

[9]             As I said, the plaintiff and defendants reside in Powell River. One of the employers resides in Powell River.

[10]         However, there are other witnesses that reside in Nanaimo, Campbell River, Langley, and then there is the question, of course, of experts. The majority of the experts, if not all of them, will be attending from Vancouver…

[14]         The costs of having experts travel to give evidence, even if they are willing or available to do so, is considerably greater than that of lay witnesses.

[15]         There was an issue as to the appropriateness of a jury trial given that the plaintiff resides in Powell River. The plaintiff was concerned that he would not be able to get a jury that was unfamiliar and unbiased with regard to the events in issue.

[16]         The defendants take that by the horns and advise that they will not have this matter tried as a jury trial if it proceeds in Powell River. So that is no longer a consideration.

[17]         The primary position advanced by the defendants was that the costs of the lay witnesses and the convenience to the plaintiff’s employer and others coming from Powell River overwhelmingly overbalance the plaintiff’s right to have the trial in Vancouver.

[18]         The plaintiff disputed that and, as I noted, provided evidence of where other witnesses actually reside. It appears that there are a number of witnesses who, although they may work occasionally in Powell River, do not reside there.

[19]         Given the overwhelming cost of expert evidence, it is my view that the test has not been met and the application is therefore denied.

bc injury law, Change of Venue, Gaebel v. Lipka, Master Muir

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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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