Plaintiff’s Lack of Credibility Taints Evidence of Medical Experts

In a decision released this afternoon, Mr Justice Geoffrey Morawetz dismissed a personal injury action alleged to have arisen from a motor vehicle accident. He found that the plaintiff had not established that her injuries met the threshold. His rather scathing rejection of the plaintiff’s testimony also led him to doubt the evidence of two well-known medical experts who testified on her behalf, but who had relied on her subjective complaints in arriving at their diagnosis.

In Nyamadi v. Mississauga (City), the plaintiff claimed to have been a passenger on a bus in 1999, when the driver missed a ramp, causing the bus to lurch and the plaintiff to be ejected from her seat. She gave evidence that she had flown across the bus, ”striking her head on the pole and rolling around on the floor for three to four minutes with another lady and the bus driver laughing at her and not stopping until the next stop”.

Morawetz J. rejected this testimony, calling it “fantasy”. His dismissal of the entire action was likewise predicated on his adverse findings of credibility against the plaintiff and her witnesses. The plaintiff’s injuries were said to include “headaches, neck strain, right shoulder strain, back pain, chest pain, lower back pain, pain in the arms, bladder injury, muscle spasm, myofascial injuries throughout her body, and contusions”. She claimed to have suffered “permanent and serious psychological injuries, including hypertension, insomnia, fatigue, stress, depression, anxiety, irritability, memory loss, and cognitive difficulties”.

Justice Morawetz pointed to numerous holes in the plaintiff’s evidence, leading him to conclude that she was “unreliable”.

Two physicians testified in support of the plaintiff’s case: Dr. Fred Langer and Dr. Adrian Hanick. They have both acted as experts in numerous other cases in Ontario. They opined that the plaintiff had a serious, permanent injury. Justice Morawetz made it clear that his credibility findings against the plaintiff carried over to those experts, to the extent that they relied on the plaintiff’s subjective complaints in order to arrive at their diagnosis.

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