@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: