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Supreme Court says doctor's libel action over email comments can proceed

Last Updated Sep 10, 2020 at 10:24 am EDT

The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says a doctor’s libel case over email remarks by a lawyer can go ahead.

The ruling today is expected to clarify when such lawsuits are warranted and when they are simply intended to silence people speaking out in the public interest.

The case began when medical doctor Howard Platnick was hired in 2014 to help assess a claim related to an auto accident on behalf of an insurer.

Following settlement, Maia Bent, lawyer for a client who claimed injury as a result of the accident, posted critical comments about Platnick on an automated email service for members of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.

Bent’s email was leaked to the media, prompting Platnick to request an apology and retraction, and later to sue Bent and her law firm for libel.

Bent and her firm successfully moved for dismissal of his action on the basis that her communication concerned a matter of public interest, but the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the decision.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press