KayCie Gravelle | Fulcrum Staff
Former University of Ottawa professor Denis Rancourt has lost a bid to derail the $1-million defamation lawsuit filed against him by U of O professor Joanne St.Lewis.
Superior Court Judge Robert Smith rejected Rancourt’s argument that claimed the lawsuit should be dismissed because the university’s decision to pay St. Lewis’ legal cost was an abuse of process.
Smith said the university had a legitimate reason for assisting St. Lewis and explained that there was no evidence to show that the university agreed to fund the lawsuit based on any improper motives.
The decision leaves room for the defamation suit to proceed against Rancourt, a former tenured physics professor who was fired from U of O in 2009. His dismissal is now being contested in labour arbitration between the university and his union.
Rancourt maintains that St. Lewis would not have pursued the defamation suit had her legal costs not been covered by the university. Judge Smith dismissed this allegation by pointing out that St. Lewis had already decided to sue Rancourt for defamation before she asked the university to help with legal costs.
Smith also said that the evidence supported the university’s explanation that it chose to pay St. Lewis’ costs because the alleged defamatory comments about her stemmed from work she undertook at the university’s request as an employee.
No date has yet been set for the defamation trial.