Here is the statement made by Me Jean-Pierre Ménard in a press conference this morning.
MONTREAL, Aug. 18, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - In a Superior Court judgment on August 15th, Judge Gary D. D. Morrison condemned Eddy Savoie to pay nearly $300,000 to Ms. Pierrette Thériault-Martel, including $200,000 in punitive damages, for the malicious prosecution he filed against her in June of 2011.
Mr. Savoie had sued Ms. Thériault-Martel for $400,000 for defamation due to her remarks denouncing the poor quality of services at the CHSLD Saint-Lambert-sur-le-Golf, where her dying mother was living. Ms. Thériault-Martel had wanted to report the abuse that she, along with other relatives of the nursing home's residents, had witnessed. Mr. Savoie sought to silence her by filing a malicious prosecution, also known as a "strategic lawsuit against public participation" (SLAPP). Two years later, in September of 2013, the Superior Court ruled that Mr. Savoie's lawsuit was abusive and reserved Ms. Thériault-Martel's right to seek damages. Ms. Thériault-Martel subsequently filed a claim against Mr. Savoie and obtained the judgment rendered last Friday.
The scope of Friday's judgment exceeds Ms. Thériault-Martel's specific case. This judgment will help all whistleblowers, including those who defend the rights of tenants and consumers, those who work to protect the environment, as well as caregivers who defend their family members' rights to receive quality care.
This is also an important victory for freedom of expression in a society where powerful interests often seek to limit or prevent public debate on key issues affecting citizens. The $200,000 in punitive damages awarded by the Court underscores the seriousness of malicious prosecution. Previous case law had only awarded a maximum of $50,000 in punitive damages.
While new rules aiming to prevent malicious prosecution were added to Quebec`s Code of Civil Procedure in 2009, the application of these rules must be rethought in order to achieve their legislative purpose. Ms. Thériault-Martel had to wait three years for the dismissal of Mr. Savoie's suit against her and for his condemnation for malicious prosecution. In the meantime, she faced a slew of appeals that resulted in significant costs and delays. The entry into force of Quebec`s new Code of Civil Procedure in September of 2015 will somewhat simplify the process of combatting malicious prosecutions. Going forward, we hope the courts will be less shy about preventing abusive lawsuits.
It was an honor for me to represent Ms. Thériault-Martel in this long legal ordeal. I hope this kindhearted and courageous woman will inspire all those who find themselves in situations where they must intervene to protect a vulnerable person. Ms. Thériault-Martel showed unwavering courage and determination in her quest for justice. Although many others would have given up, Ms. Thériault-Martel persevered.
SOURCE: Ménard, Martin, avocats
For further information: Me Jean-Pierre Ménard: (514) 253-8044