The group Canadian Frontline Nurses, CFLN, has had their million dollar defamation suit thrown out as a SLAPP. This is of course, short for strategic lawsuit against public participation. This is when the Courts are improperly used to silence speech or expression on public interest discussion.
Note: although the ruling has been handed down, it’s not yet posted publicly. It will be included here when that happens.
CFLN and 3 of its members: (a) Kristen Nagle; (b) Sarah Choujounian; and (c) Kristal Pitter, were all listed as Plaintiffs. They had sough general damages for defamation of $750,000.00, and another $250,000.00 for aggravated, exemplary or punitive damages.
This lawsuit centered around 2 articles. Are they worth $1 million?
Article posted by Canadian Nurses Association, September 9, 2021
This portion of an article published by the Canadian Nurses Association was quoted to support the defamation claims against the organization and leadership.
Here’s the problem: nowhere in the article are any of the Plaintiffs named. This is a fatal error in a defamation case, as defamatory speech or expression has to be of the person(s) suing. This article could refer to anyone.
However, the Claim states that they were “referred”, and that should be enough. That’s going to be a very tough sell.
Article posted by Together News/Comox Valley, September 11, 2021
There was another article, this one from Comox Valley. While this one did mention the Plaintiffs by name, it appeared to be referencing (for the most part) quotes that they had made. While the January 6 comments seem out of place, it’s difficult to see how these leads to $1 million in damages.
Statements of Defense laid groundwork for anti-SLAPP Motion
- CNA statement doesn’t refer to the Plaintiffs (CNA)
- Words themselves are not defamatory (CNA)
- Qualified privilege (Both)
- Responsible communication on matters of public interest (Both)
- Truth (Both)
- No malice (Both)
- No damages incurred (Both)
- Fair comment (Together News)
Both documents reference Section 137.1 of the Courts of Justice Act, which is the legislation on which anti-SLAPP is based upon. The Defendants signaled that they would be bringing Motions on this. And that’s what they did.
Lawsuits like this actually harm freedom movement
Yes, the “health restrictions” are based on deception and distortions of reality. But this doesn’t help. Considering that these groups claim to be pro-freedom, suing critics makes it difficult to take them seriously.
In December 2020, Kulvinder Gill and Ashvinder Lamba filed a $12.75 million defamation lawsuit against 23 people and media outlets. It was (predictably) thrown out as a SLAPP. Gill still has another $7 million suit against Amir Attaran and the University of Ottawa.
These kinds of suits have exposed a certain sect of society: there are plenty of people who “claim” to support freedom, and free speech, but who don’t. Instead, we have people who selectively support speech depending on the ideology involved.
Appeal is already being promised
Canadian Frontline Nurses is promising to appeal the SLAPP ruling. This is pointless, as the Ontario Court of Appeal isn’t going to overturn any of this.
Now, are they simply getting very poor advice, or are the donations that come in making it all worthwhile?
(1) CFLN Statement Of Claim
(2) CFLN Statement Of Defense CDN Nurses Association
(3) CFLN Statement Of Defense Together News/Comox Valley
(4) CFLN Responding Motion Record Of Plaintiffs
(5) CFLN Cross Examinations Volume 1
(6) CFLN Cross Examinations Volume 2
(7) CFLN Cross Examinations Volume 3
(8) CFLN Supplementary Motion Record Of Plaintiffs
(9) CFLN Freedom Rally Documentation