Personal Injury Blog

Court dismisses defence application for Independent Medical Examination with Psychiatrist

In reasons released earlier today the court in Tournier v. Ruckle, 2017 BCSC 308 dismissed the defendant’s application to compel the plaintiff to attend an independent medical examination with a Psychiatrist.  In Tournier, the defence applied for the IME for the purpose of responding to an expert report of the plaintiff’s psychiatrist.  The application was made after the 84-day service deadline.  The defence claimed they were taken by surprise when the plaintiff served a report shortly before the deadline which diagnosed the plaintiff with PTSD.  In finding that the defence should have been aware that a PTSD diagnosis was a live possibility, and thereby dismissing the application, Master Muir said as follows:

[1]            THE COURT:  This is an application by the defendant for an independent medical examination of the plaintiff by Dr. Ursula Gutteridge, a psychiatrist, for the purpose of responding to the expert’s reports of the plaintiff’s psychiatrist, Dr. Christopher Babbage.

[20]        The plaintiff submits that this is just another classic example of the defendant failing to obtain any evidence on psychiatric issues when those were clearly apparent and trying to shoehorn in an opinion after the 84‑day deadline is passed.

[21]        I just pause to reflect on the number of these types of applications. They are frequent. The court in Timar, in particular, held that rebuttal reports should be rare and rebuttal reports needing an independent medical examination should be rarer still. What seems to be an issue, and I am not saying it necessarily is the case here, is that defendants seem to want to have the plaintiff’s primary expert’s reports in their hands in order to know exactly what they need to address before they decide whether to obtain an expert’s opinion, but that is not the rule.

[22]        As noted in Timar, both parties have an obligation to turn their mind to the conditions of the plaintiff that may require expert evidence prior to the 84‑day deadline. There is prejudice to the plaintiff in delay in producing reports. The plaintiff submits that the report of Dr. Gutteridge will, of necessity and obviously, be essentially the same as a primary expert’s report, to which they will have no opportunity to respond.

[25]        Counsel for the plaintiff was operating on the exact same playing field as was counsel for the defendant. As was submitted by counsel for the plaintiff, where the defendant is alerted that the plaintiff has significant mental‑health concerns that impact on the issues in the litigation, as in this case, and the defendant decides that an independent primary expert’s report is not necessary, that should not be laid at the feet of the plaintiff unless there is significant surprise.

[26]        In my view, the diagnosis of PTSD here is not sufficiently out of the realm of the symptoms and diagnoses that had been previously revealed to the defendant that this is such a case.

The full decision can be found here: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/17/03/2017BCSC0308.htm