Tendentious – What Does that Mean?


@Bafflegab1 on Twitter describes himself:

‘Long-time critic of Ontario auto insurers; their defence lawyers; and their hired gun medico-legal assessors. Also critical of plaintiff bar lethargy.’

In a recent tweet, he referred to a judgement in the Canadian Superior Court of Justice from 2004 that I had not previously seen.

The judgement is of interest in that it considers the issue of an IME organisation that sought damages from The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in relation to a programme “Prove it if You Can” broadcast by CBC that had been derogatory about the conduct of the IME organisation – AssessMed.

Justice Paul Rivard ruled that the assertions made in the programme were objectively fair and there was no spite, ill will, any direct or ulterior motive on the part of the CBC by broadcasting the programme.  He states:

“I have already indicated that the comments in the program were based on true facts. The defendants honestly believed in the truth of the comments. The comments were based on facts upon which a person could honestly hold the opinions expressed. In such circumstances, I conclude the comments were objectively fair”

The judge calculated damages that might apply if his judgement was later found to be in error, however this ruling was that no damages were payable on the basis that CBC had made fair comment.

This brings me to the word ‘tendentious’, a word I had no knowledge of before reading this  judgement.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary this means:

“(of speech or writing) expressing or supporting a particular opinion that many other people disagree with”

Justice Rivard used the term tendentious in the context of describing the approach of Dr Richman, the director and Chief Medical Officer of AssessMed. Dr Richman had prepared an article “Manufacturing Disability” which to Justice Rivard revealed a clear and strong view held by Dr Richman that the majority of claimants studied at AssessMed wilfully misrepresented their situation, and that they did so often with assistance of their health care providers. His judgement includes the following:

‘While Dr. Richman’s opinions find some support in medical literature, they are considered too skeptical by others. Dr. Richman’s research in this area was based on discussions with assessors at AssessMed but not on any empirical or validated study. In my view, it reflected a tendentious approach to assessments, which subjected AssessMed to being viewed as partial to insurers.’

I have learnt a new word and am also aware of a judicial opinion rejecting a claim for damages by an IME assessment firm in Canada against Canada’s national broadcaster after it aired a programme that supported the notion that IME assessors can be biased in their dealings with motor vehicle accident claimants..

Are there any parallels in Australia?

Here is a link to the judgement for those interested:



About Tasworkdoc

As an occupational physician in private medical practice in Hobart, Tasmania - the southernmost state of Australia, I see workers referred by their general practitioners with various types of work-related injuries and diseases. These are mostly musculoskeletal injuries, both of traumatic and gradual onset as well as various associated psychological disorders. With interaction with patients for treatment and providing advice about rehabilitation, I have the opportunity, first-hand, to observe interactions between individual patients and compensation systems. I also conduct independent medical assessments, including impairment assessments for musculoskeletal injuries and asbestos-related disease compensation. This provides another perspective of workers within compensation systems.
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3 Responses to Tendentious – What Does that Mean?

  1. jqu33431quintner says:

    Peter, one of the leading suppliers of IME opinions reassures “patients” who are to be examined that all assessments are conducted by “expert trusted medical specialists”. Should these claims of “expertise” and “trust” be taken at face value when we know that the expressed IME opinions are being fed into a combative medico-legal arena?

    Therefore I don’t think your question about parallels in Australia can be answered until such time as an independent audit is performed upon the opinions emanating from IMEs attached to the relevant organisations.

  2. FAIR Chair says:

    Problems in Ontario Canada with IME experts are getting attention http://ow.ly/n12E307LjPu but it is a widespread and longstanding issue with dishonest vendors http://ow.ly/3cCD306MFnv . Many of the same companies operate world-wide though the problems with medical examinations appear to be amplified in Ontario with a government who has failed to protect vulnerable victims at every level – see: http://ow.ly/wl8R3083gfm meaning that MVA victims have had to create an organization to speak out in order to be heard.

  3. Tasworkdoc says:

    @Bafflegab1 posted the following on Twitter:

    ‘@observerWC Saw your post – not my word – Justice Rivard’s. BTW – nice website.
    “someone has made up his or her mind in advance” ‘

    I certainly like the simpler definition of “tendentious” he has provided. Thanks

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