Trial adjourned due to uncertain prognosis.

On February 16, 2016,  the BC Supreme Court granted an application to adjourn a personal injury trial in the face of uncertain medical evidence about the plaintiff’s prognosis.

In Gee v. Basra, 2016 BCSC 427the plaintiff was injured in a 2011 motor vehicle accident for which the defendant admitted liability.  The plaintiff suffered chronic headaches and the her physician was uncertain as to her prognosis, noting that a course of Botox injections may prove helpful, stating that:

Jodene [the plaintiff] is now four years post injury and has fully participated in the range of therapy offered to her. She continues to experience significant headache, which interferes with her ability to perform at work, at home with household duties, and fully participate in social activities. Headache which is resistant to therapy after such a prolonged period of time has a low probability of recovery, but I feel I could not fully comment on prognosis until she has had a trial of Botox injections. I would recommend Botox, 200 units, every three months for a minimum of three cycles following the pre-empt Chase The Pain [sic] protocol.

The plaintiff sought an adjournment on the basis of this evidence; the defendant opposed, noting the trial was set to start one week later.  Master McDiarmid granted the adjournment noting that while the application was brought very late in the process, an uncertain prognosis could lead to an unfair trial, giving the following reasons:

[20]         I conclude that this is not a situation similar to Sidoroff. All questions affecting the justice of the case will not be before the trial judge. He will not know whether Botox is effective to ameliorate the headaches. The judge will not even be able to have estimates of the chance of the Botox working. No such evidence is in the materials, and in fact in the passage I previously cited from Dr. Spacey, she cannot fully comment on prognosis until the plaintiff has undergone a trial.

[21]         That prejudice caused to the plaintiff if she cannot undergo the treatment and assess its results significantly outweighs prejudice to the defendants, who, as noted, have admitted liability. The prejudice to the defendants can be ameliorated largely in costs.

[22]         Accordingly, I grant the adjournment with the following terms:

1)     The defendant is entitled to costs thrown away, which I am going to assess summarily at $1,000. That is for trial preparation. They are also entitled to full reimbursement for the cost for arranging videoconferencing testimony of Dr. Richards. Those costs are to be set off from any amount recovered by the plaintiff; in other words, they are not payable forthwith;

2)     The defendant is entitled to a further independent medical examination of the plaintiff by a specialist of its choosing; and

3)     The defendant is entitled to a further half day discovery.