Ms Lauriente was injured in an mva in 2010 & developed chronic neck pain & headaches. The main issue in her trial was whether they impaired her future ability to work full-time as an RN. Dr. Locht, an orthopedic surgeon, assessed Ms. L for ICBC. He wrote that Ms L’s injuries did not give rise to any impairment in her function. The judge dismissed his opinion & wrote that:
Dr Locht’s “conclusion, however, was based overwhelmingly on the lack of objective pathology that explained her ongoing difficulties. I consider that that conclusion, respectfully, is simplistic.” In his cross examination Dr Locht admitted that:
- an individual can have pain without any objective pathology that explains that pain,
- such pain can prevent individuals from working,
- such pain could constitute a “functional impairment”,
- there is a link between chronic pain and depression,
- depression can be secondary to pain,
- depression can exacerbate pain,
- pain can affect sleep leading to a further deterioration in condition &
- these various conditions can give rise to a deterioration in function over time.
In his decision, Mr. Justice Voith put great credence on:
- the believability of Ms. L, which was absolutely critical,
- the opinions & pessimistic prognosis of Dr. Gordon Robinson, a senior Vancouver neurologist & headache specialist &
- the opinion of Ms Craig, an OT after her lengthy functional capacity evaluation, that Ms L was only partially capable of meeting the demands of her RN job (see below)
& awarded Ms. L a total of $765,395.
This was made up of the following awards for:
- pain & suffering: $100,000,
- past wage loss: $32,000,
- lost future earning capacity: $450,000,
- cost of future care: $160,000,
- loss of housekeeping capacity $10,000 &
- out of pocket expenses (special damages): $13,395.
Ms. Craig wrote in her report:
“…Her main limitations to performing [RN] work of this nature are her reduced capacity for
- the heavier tasks (such as lifting & positioning patients & completing CPR compressions for longer durations (i.e. more than two to three rounds of two minutes is beyond her capacity & is likely to result in neck pain and headache)),
- looking up at monitors/IV bags/ upper supply shelves,
- looking down/stooping for longer periods for wound dressings/performing minor procedures/patient assessment,
- assuming awkward positions of her neck & spine, and
- repetitive or forceful reaching“.
- Lauriente v. Schoonhoven, 2017 BCSC 2246
- Chris Temple’s blogs on the believability of experts at:
- or click on “Believability of Experts” on the right.