Document Disclosure in Civil Claim

This was a court application to force a claimant to disclose the details of a prior auto insurance settlement (Gamble v. Brown,2015 BCSC 1873).This lawsuit arose out of a motor vehicle accident which occurred  in Surrey, British Columbia in which there was a claim for injuries and loss suffered by the plaintiff. The matter was set for a 10-day jury trial to be heard in the Vancouver Courthouse.

The defendant wanted to force the claimant to sign authorizations with the following wording:

production of any part of your file in respect of my motor vehicle accident which took place in Alberta on March 19, [] which refers to defines, describes or comments upon the nature and extent of my injuries arising from that accident and the effects of that accident on my physical and mental health and, in particular, any mediation brief, settlement letter, file memo, communication or similar document in that regard

The prior car accident in Alberta involved soft tissue injuries to her neck and back, and a concussion. However, as a result of the car accident in question the claimant sustained injuries to her head, jaw, neck, shoulders, chest, back, left arm, left elbow, left wrist, left hand, left hip, left leg and left heel. As well, the plaintiff claimed she experienced temporomandibular joint disorder, post-traumatic stress, headaches, sleep disturbance, fatigue, confusion, memory disturbance, difficulties concentrating, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, dizziness and gastrointestinal.

The claimant refused to provide mediation briefs, settlement letters, memos, communication or similar documents.The insurance company lawyer would not agree to any production offer that withholded any documentation about settlement discussions.

After an review of the salient law Master Taylor refused to allow production of the prior settlement details. By account of an expert report prepared for the insurance company lawyer, the claimant was doing well and not suffering any effects from the Alberta  accident well before the occurrence of the car accident in question. As the court went on to state:

[30]  As well, the plaintiff has offered the defendant a letter from her previous solicitor confirming the terms of the settlement she received for the injuries she sustained in the 2009 accident, together with medical-legal documents from the previous accident.

[31] In this case, I am of the view that the defendant/applicant has not shown that the public interest in preventing double compensation has taken precedence over the public interest in encouraging settlement such that I should order the production of the mediation brief, settlement letter, file memo, communication or similar document prepared by the plaintiff’s previous solicitor…

[33]         In conclusion, I determine that the defendant has not satisfied me that I should order breach of the settlement privilege attached to the documents prepared by the plaintiff’s previous counsel for the plaintiff in the 2009 Alberta case. Accordingly, the defendant’s application is dismissed with costs to the plaintiff.

Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B

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