Medical Experts in personal injury cases are supposed to be impartial, independent and absent of bias. Dr. O.M. Sovio was qualified as an expert in orthopedic surgery in this personal injury case but his opinion was rejected by the Court. Dr. Sovio agreed that in the years since 2009 work for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has dominated his practice to the point that it now makes up about 90 percent of his practice.(Palangio v. Tso, 2017 BCSC 1573).
Dr. Sovio acknowledged that he had no specific training in the treatment of pain but despite this gave opinion in this area. In his medical report Dr. Sovio sets out the history of the car accidents and characterized the first car accident as “a relatively minor accident” and the second accident as “a relatively minor accident as well with minimal damage.” However, in cross-examination Dr. Sovio said he did not know where he got the impression that it was a minor accident.
The judge did not accept the opinion of Dr. Sovio:

[222]  I did not find Dr. Sovio to be a reliable and credible witness in this case. With regard to reliability I find that Dr. Sovio was quick to assume that the Plaintiff was trying to conceal facts that could be material to his examination, for example, in relation to the subsequent accident, whereas had he read the letter of instruction he was sent prior to his examination of the Plaintiff he would have appreciated there was nothing secret about the Subsequent Accident and that the Plaintiff had disclosed it to other medical experts. Furthermore, I note that certain turns of phrase Dr. Sovio used in his report created a negative or false impression of the Plaintiff, like “he seems to be convinced he needs these [the lidocaine injections administered by Dr. C] on a regular basis or he gets more discomfort.” This statement by Dr. Sovio creates the impression that the Plaintiff determines that he needs these injections, completely overlooking Dr. C’s involvement as the pain treatment specialist who administers them. His choice of language is designed to imply that the Plaintiff is malingering or exaggerating his pain in terms of continuing to need the injections. This is contrary to the impartiality the Court expects from an expert witness.

[223] I also note that Dr. Sovio is not qualified to provide opinion evidence on chronic pain and pain management. He admitted that he has no training with regard to the treatment of headaches, and that he has had no clinical training regarding the treatment of pain…

[225]     Dr. Sovio neglected to refer to the pain he had noted the Plaintiff to have at his C2-3 vertebrae in the “Impressions and Discussion” section of the report, referring only the Plaintiff experiencing mild discomfort on palpation of the paravertebral muscles. I find that he was inaccurate in summarizing his findings, or he was careless. I do not accept his evidence as he tried to explain this oversight away. Either way, the reliability of his report and his testimony was further undermined.

[226]     Where the opinions of Dr. Sovio as to the causes, extent, or treatment of the Plaintiff’s injuries arising from the First and Second Accidents conflicts with the opinions of Dr. C, Dr. M, and/or Dr. S, I reject Dr. Sovio’s evidence without hesitation. Even Dr. Sovio acknowledged that an orthopedic examination may not reveal findings in relation to individuals experiencing legitimate pain and chronic pain, and in my view the Plaintiff is precisely such an individual.

The claimant sought damages for personal injury arising from two motor vehicle accidents. The first occurred on Brunette Avenue at the intersection of Braid Street in New Westminster, BC.  The second occurred at the intersection of Lougheed and Dewdney Trunk Road in Coquitlam, BC. Neither involved significant vehicle damage.

The claimant was found to have suffered from chronic mechanical neck pain, chronic whiplash-associated disorder, and cervicogenic headaches arising from injuries sustained in the first car accident.  The injuries sustained in the first Accident were aggravated by the second car accident.

The court went on to award the claimant over $365,000 summarized as follows:

1.     Pain and suffering:                                          $90,000.00

2.     Past loss of earning capacity:                         $20,000.00

3.     Future loss of earning capacity:                    $196,000.00

4.     Loss of Handyman capacity:                          $12,500.00

5.     Cost of future care:                                          $47,007.66

6.     Special damages:                                              $2,514.44

Total damage award:                                 $368,022.10

Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.- Serving all of BC


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