Quebec: Teacher Sues Parents and is Awarded Over 1.2 Million Dollars

Update:

MONTREAL, QUE.: AUGUST 29, 2014 -- The majority of Quebec's high profile criminal cases are handle at the Palais de Justice in Montreal, on Friday, August 29, 2014. The building was designed by Montreal architects Pierre Boulva and Jacques David, whose other prominent Montreal projects included 500 Place D'Armes, Th??tre Maisonneuve, the Dow Planetarium and the Place-des-Arts, Atwater and Lucien-L'Allier metro stations. (Dave Sidaway / THE GAZETTE)
MONTREAL, QUE.: AUGUST 29, 2014 — The majority of Quebec’s high profile criminal cases are handle at the Palais de Justice in Montreal, on Friday, August 29, 2014. The building was designed by Montreal architects Pierre Boulva and Jacques David, whose other prominent Montreal projects included 500 Place D’Armes, Th??tre Maisonneuve, the Dow Planetarium and the Place-des-Arts, Atwater and Lucien-L’Allier metro stations. (Dave Sidaway / THE GAZETTE)

A Quebec Superior Court judge has ordered a local couple who libelled their son’s teacher in 2008 to pay the teacher an additional $1.02 million, since it is now clear the effects of the slanderous public comments destroyed the woman’s career and her quality of life.

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On March 25, 2008, Kathryn Rosenstein and Hagop Artinian dropped a lawsuit against their son’s grade school teacher at Roslyn School in Westmount, on the day the case was to go to court. The parents had alleged the teacher, Mary Kanavaros, had targeted and humiliated their son by, among other incidents, telling him in front of classmates that he should do his own homework, rather than have his mother do it.

The details of the out-of-court settlement were supposed to have been kept confidential. But when reporters asked them about the settlement, the parents implied they had proven Kanavaros had behaved unprofessionally. In fact, in the settlement, the English Montreal School Board had agreed to pay the couple $5,000 to drop the lawsuit with no admission of fault by either Kanavaros or the board.

Kanavaros subsequently sued the couple for defamation and, in 2010, a Quebec Superior Court ordered Rosenstein and Artinian to pay the teacher $234,000 for defamation and punitive damages. Kanavaros had suffered a major depression and mental health experts testified at the time that she had been unable to work from the time of the libel in March 2008 to the end of December 2010.

The parents appealed the decision, but the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the Superior Court ruling in January 2012. The couple then appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear it in June 2012.

In January 2013, Kanavaros went back to court to claim more compensation, as her doctors were willing to testify that the major depression she now suffers was caused by the libel and has left her unable to work at all.

Now 56, Kanavaros sought compensation for the salary she would have earned between January 2011 to her legal retirement age at 65, which would have been $912,327, plus $100,000 in additional damages.

Kanavaros’s lawyer, Arthur Wechsler, said in a telephone interview that he hopes his client will be able to find closure now that the case is finally settled.

“This woman for whom teaching was a passion for many years was tragically robbed of her way of life, both professionally and personally, after she was the victim of defamation, and the judge has finally awarded her financial compensation. Hopefully, she will find some peace with this in the future.”

He added that Kanavaros had found her passion for teaching late in life, earning her teaching degree in her late 30s from McGill University. She taught for 15 years, he said, and she had a “spotless teaching record”.

“It is a tragic story,” he added.

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