Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Bad news travels fast and when good people are vindicated, sadly the good news is slower to make headlines.
I have just learned that a prior post (now removed) depicting the inappropriate habit of parents to try and sue the school district when their children are not accomplishing well in class merits a “Happy Ending” update!
“This judgment should make parents think twice or three times before attacking the reputation of a teacher in a malicious way”
Mary Kanavaros Case – Montreal Teachers Association
MONTREAL, Aug. 3 /CNW Telbec/ – Teacher Mary Kanavaros won an important battle in Superior Court on Friday, July 30th, when the Honourable Justice Danielle Richer awarded her the sum of $234,011.87 in damages in a defamation case against parents who originally sued her for $155,000 in May 2005.
The parents, Hagop Artinian and Kathryn Rosenstein had lodged a suit against Kanavaros, Jim McMorran, principal of Roslyn School, and the English Montreal School Board, claiming that Kanavaros had humiliated their son. The case went to court on March 25, 2008, at which time the parents, represented by their lawyer, Me. Julius Grey, offered to drop the case in exchange for a negligible amount of money, with no admission of responsibility by any of the defendants, and the undertakings to keep the terms of the agreement confidential.
Mary Kanavaros reluctantly accepted the dropping of the case. She had looked forward to the opportunity of clearing her reputation, but wanted peace for herself and her colleagues at the same time. Regrettably, the parents chose to leave the courtroom and immediately defame her by speaking to the media as if there had been some judgment rendered, stating that “even without a trial, they made their point”. “She’s a marked lady and before she makes any more unprofessional moves, she’ll have to think twice.”
Mrs. Justice Richer found the statements made by the parents to the media were defamatory, and that Kanavaros had been seriously affected by their claims against her.
In awarding the amount of money to Kanavaros, Mrs. Justice Richer included an amount of $25,000 in punitive damages, stating that voluntary, intentional and malicious attacks to Kanavaros’ good reputation by the parents had been abundantly proven, and that it was important to dissuade these parents from dispensing their own justice.
Mrs. Justice Richer went on to say that other parents need to get the same message, since professionals such as teachers may spend years building their reputations and have them destroyed in a matter of minutes by television, the Internet, and newspapers.
A relieved Kanavaros can now hopefully begin to heal from the damages caused by the malicious attack on her reputation. Ruth Rosenfield, President of the Montreal Teachers Association, which supported Kanavaros’ legal suit against the parents, expressed her satisfaction with the judgment on Kanavaros’ behalf, and on behalf of teachers in general. “This judgment should make parents think twice or three times before attacking the reputation of a teacher in a malicious way” stated Rosenfield. She saluted Mary Kanavaros for her courage and her family and friends for their support in this fight that will clearly benefit all teachers, and praised Mary’s lawyers, Mes. Martine L. Tremblay and Anastasia Flouris, for presenting the evidence in such a clear and forceful manner. She also noted the exemplary work of MTA Executive Assistant John Winrow, who dealt with the case and supported Mary Kanavaros throughout the six-year period, from the beginning of the issue.
“It will be interesting to see if the same extensive media coverage given to the parents’ attack on Mary will be given to this decision by Justice Richer” commented Rosenfield. “It would be the only fair thing for The Gazette and other CanWest newspapers, as well as CBC, CTV, and CJAD, all of whom that ran the original attack, to do. We’ll see!”