Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismisses $14 million lawsuit by Romeo Phillion

Decision clears Attorney General of Ontario, Ottawa Police Services Board and Former Ottawa Police Officers

TORONTO, May 8, 2013 /CNW/ - The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has dismissed a $14 million lawsuit for damages filed by Romeo Phillion against Ontario's Attorney General, the Ottawa Police Services Board and two former Ottawa police detectives, John McCombie and Stephen Nadori.

"Sometimes the court system has to say enough - if we attempt to go further, we may do more harm than good," says Kirk Boggs, a lawyer with Lerners LLP, who along with Jasmine Akbarali of Lerners, argued the case on behalf of the Ottawa Police Services Board and the retired police officers. "The underlying circumstances surrounding the murder and Mr Phillion's subsequent conviction are over 40 years old. Witnesses have passed away, memories have significantly eroded and evidence has disappeared. Allowing Mr Phillion's lawsuit to proceed carried the very serious risk that it might unfairly and improperly damage the Defendants stellar professional reputations."

Boggs argued that the action be dismissed on several counts: in part, as an abuse of process as it involved an attempt by Mr Phillion to relitigate key findings made by the Court of Appeal and secondly, because a fair trial, due to the 40+ years that had passed, was no longer possible.

"Everyone who steps into a courtroom - plaintiff or defendant - has an equal right to a fair trial. We are very pleased for our clients that the court recognized this was simply not possible here and brought this litigation to an end," says Boggs.

The lawsuit was launched by Mr. Romeo Phillion in April 2012.  Phillion alleged that "malicious, reckless and negligent conduct", and "a failure to disclose an alibi" on the part of the defendants led to his charge, prosecution, conviction and subsequent imprisonment for the 1967 murder of Ottawa firefighter, Leopold Roy. In March 2009 the Ontario Court of Appeal quashed Phillion's conviction and a year later (April 2010) the Crown withdrew the murder charge, saying that due to the passage of time there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

The current lawsuit was argued before Justice Frank of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, who, on April 24, 2013, dismissed it on the basis that it was an abuse of process. In doing so, Justice Frank wrote of the "passage of time" that has deprived the defendants of the ability to directly respond to the allegations.

Lerners LLP, one of Canada's largest litigation groups with over 100 lawyers, has offices in Toronto and London, Ontario. Lerners lawyers represent a wide range of individual and institutional clients, from victims of accidents to corporations embroiled in complex business disputes and appeals. Its lawyers, many of whom have been involved in landmark cases, practise in the following areas: Commercial Dispute Resolution, Medical Liability, Professional Defence, Insurance Law, Corporate Bankruptcy and Insolvency, Personal Injury Law, Public Law, Appeals, Tax and Business Law.

SOURCE: Lerners LLP

For further information:

or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Mary Ann Freedman
Freedman & Associates Inc. for Lerners LLP
Phone: (416) 868-1500
Email: mafreedman@freedmanandassociates.com

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