Insurer ordered to pay for emergency surgery while travelling.

On July 28, 2017, the Supreme Court of BC ordered an insurance company to pay for a British Columbia man’s emergency heart surgery while travelling. The court held, in Fletcher v. Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, 2017 BCSC 1330, that the medical expenses Paul Fletcher incurred while outside of Canada were not excluded by the policy. The court made this finding after noting that Mr. Fletcher was advised by his treating physicians that: a) his condition was stable; b) he was safe to travel; and c) further testing could wait until after his travels. The disputed claim...

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Surveillance prohibited while attending medical examination.

On June 28, 2017, a judge of the BC Supreme Court prohibited a defendant from conducting video surveillance of a plaintiff who is compelled to attend a defence medical examination in a personal injury lawsuit. Rule 7-6(1) of  the Supreme Court Civil Rules allows compulsory examinations where the physical or mental condition of a person is in issue in an action. For many years defendants, or their insurers, have used these examinations as opportunities to conduct covert surveillance of plaintiffs in personal injury and disability lawsuits. This practice was considered by Mr. Justice Thompson,...

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Expert evidence not always needed when common sense prevails.

On June 23, 2017, the BC Supremc Court considered the use, and overuse, of expert evidence in personal injury litigation. Truax v. Hyrb, 2017 BCSC 1052, was an action arising out of a motor vehicle accident in which fault was at issue.  The defendant brought an application seeking a dismissal of the lawsuit and argued that in failing to adduce expert engineering evidence an adverse inference should be drawn against the plaintiff.  In rejecting this argument, Mr. Justice Dley provided the following comments about the role of expert evidence: [20]         The defence argues that the failure by...

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Manulife pays $69 million to settle class action.

After almost eight years of litigation, a securities class action against Canada’s largest life insurance company settled for $69 million. In  Ironworkers Ontario Pension Fund v Manulife Financial, 2017 ONSC 2669, the Ontario court approved the payment of honoraria to the representative plaintiffs, the payment of class counsel contingency-based legal fees, and the payment of a preliminary commission to a third-party litigation funder. Background Manulife Financial Corporation (“MFC”) is the largest life insurance company in Canada. In early 2004, MFC added several new guaranteed...

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Court rules that insurers must “avoid” obscure terms.

On April 20, 2017, Mr. Justice Kent of the BC Supreme Court ruled that vehicle damage arising from a lessee’s arson does not fall within the “conversion exclusion” clause in an ICBC Autoplan Optional Policy, and an innocent lessor may be entitled to coverage.  CIT Financial Ltd. v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2017 BCSC 641, involved a coverage dispute for the alleged arson of a leased vehicle. The Court was asked to interpret the insured plaintiff’s insurance policy and, in particular, whether coverage for the fire damage to the vehicle was excluded by the...

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Defence request for 2nd medical exam denied.

On March 23, 2017,  the Supreme Court of BC denied the defence request for an medical examination by a vocational psychologist due to the fact that the defence had a previous medical examination by a defence psychiatrist (from whom they had no ordered a report). In Baxter v. Shelton, 2017 BCSC 953, Master Keighley wrote: [6]             …counsel for the defence determined to have a vocational rehabilitation assessment done and scheduled an appointment for March 24, 2017, before Dr. Colleen Quee Newell, a vocational rehabilitation consultant.  Plaintiff’s counsel took objection to...

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