Background: This case centers around plaintiff Iryna Fedotkina, who was involved in two motor vehicle accidents, one in 2015 and another in 2019, resulting in personal injuries on both occasions. The dispute involved a series of undertakings, but eventually narrowed down to two key undertakings: Undertaking 13: To provide all independent medical examinations or other medical/legal reports completed on Ms. Fedotkina in relation to the 2015 motor vehicle accident. Undertaking 14: To provide copies of all functional capacity evaluations and economic assessments completed on Ms. Fedotkina as the result of the 2015 motor vehicle accident. The defendants based their case on the belief that there was a considerable overlap in injuries from both accidents, a claim disputed by Ms. Fedotkina who argued that her injuries from the first accident were fully resolved. Consequently, the defendants filed an application to compel responses to the contested undertakings, emphasizing their relevance and material significance. Plaintiff’s Objections: The plaintiff raised several objections to the production of the reports. Resolution of Prior Injuries: Ms. Fedotkina’s key objection was that her 2015 accident injuries had completely resolved, rendering them irrelevant for the current litigation. She aimed to focus solely on the effects of the 2019 accident, arguing that the resolved injuries from 2015 did not bear on her current condition or the claims related to the 2019 accident. Solicitor-Client Privilege Claim: Ms. Fedotkina objected on the grounds of solicitor-client privilege, asserting that it protected the requested documents from disclosure. She argued that this privilege, separate from litigation privilege, did not expire with the resolution of the 2015 action. Impact on Personal Injury Practice: Ms. Fedotkina also argued that requiring the production of these reports would have broader implications, potentially altering the landscape of personal injury practice. She suggested that such a precedent could affect many similar cases, where the assessment of injuries across multiple accidents is a common issue. Defendants’ Argument: The crux of the defendants’ argument was the assertion of a significant overlap between the injuries sustained by Ms. Fedotkina in the 2015 and 2019 motor vehicle accidents. Relevance of Past Injuries: The defendants argued that understanding the injuries from the 2015 accident was essential to accurately assess the extent and nature of the injuries claimed in the 2019 accident. Material Significance of Past Injuries: The defendants also contended that these reports were not just relevant but materially significant. They held that without this information, it would be difficult to accurately assess the current claims, as the reports could shed light on whether some of the injuries claimed in 2019 were pre-existing, residual, or entirely new. The defendants suggested that the continuity of injuries or conditions from the first to the second accident could play a crucial role in determining liability and damages. Privilege: Alongside their argument about relevance and materiality, the defendants also claimed that any litigation privilege associated with these reports had expired. They asserted that since the 2015 action had been resolved, the privilege that might have protected these documents from being disclosed was no longer applicable. This argument aimed to remove potential legal barriers to accessing the reports. NOTE: Initially, the objections were primarily centered around litigation privilege. However, as the case progressed, the objections broadened to include issues of not just relevance and materiality, but also the solicitor-client branch of privilege. This shift indicated a nuanced approach to the legal strategies employed by the parties involved. Court’s Findings & Decision: The Court determined that the information sought was pertinent and significant. It observed that the prior reports, to the extent they exist, relate to the injuries and compensation claimed in the current litigation. The connection between injuries and medical recovery from a previous and a subsequent accident is a well-established concept. This situation is not unusual; for example, in Bains v Adam, 2023 ABKB 491, the court had to distinctly assess injuries from three different accidents, illustrating the relevance of this practice. The Court, referencing Blank v. Canada (Minister of Justice), 2006 SCC 39, concluded that the litigation privilege previously applicable to the requested reports had expired. It noted that these reports were not primarily prepared for the current case and that any existing litigation privilege ceased with the settlement of the i2015 accident claim. The Court clarified that solicitor-client privilege is applicable only to interactions between the lawyer and client, as well as the lawyer’s working materials and briefs. It differentiated this from litigation privilege, which covers communications with third parties conducted primarily for litigation purposes. The Court emphasized that litigation privilege concludes upon the termination of the litigation. Addressing the Plaintiff’s concern that disclosing reports from past accidents could affect ongoing and future personal injury cases, the Court ruled that any relevant and non-privileged material must be produced. It stated that analyzing the link between injuries from past and current accidents is a frequent practice and not unprecedented. The Court noted that each case is unique, and in this instance, the four-year gap between the accidents was not considered excessively long. Taking these factors into account, J. Farrington decided in favor of the defendants and directed that Undertakings #13 and #14 be answered. Significance and Broader Impact: This decision significantly impacts personal injury law, especially in multi-accident scenarios: 1. Mandating the disclosure of previous IME reports introduces greater transparency in personal injury cases. It ensures that all relevant medical information is considered, preventing plaintiffs from concealing past injuries that might be relevant to their current condition. 2. Plaintiffs should expect their relevant medical history, not just the injuries pertinent to the current case, to be scrutinized. This means that plaintiffs need to be prepared to discuss and potentially defend their past medical issues and treatments in court. 3. Legal counsel for plaintiffs may need to adjust their strategies, considering the potential impact of past injuries on current claims. This could involve more detailed pre-litigation preparation and a re-evaluation of the merits of a case before proceeding. 4. There may be increased concerns regarding the privacy of plaintiffs, as sensitive medical history is disclosed in court. This could lead to discussions about the scope of allowable disclosures and the protection of sensitive medical information. 5. It delineates the limits of litigation privilege, emphasizing its confinement to the litigation’s lifespan. The ruling highlights the necessity of disclosing relevant, non-privileged information in legal cases. In summary, this decision marks an important development in privilege and disclosure within personal injury law, which may affect future case handling. Questions: If you have any questions with respect to this newsletter, please contact Mohit Malhotra at email@example.com or 403.294.7098.