Pro-life students suing Carelton are forced to pay costs
The lawsuit against Carleton University from two anti-abortion student activists is slowly (and expensively) winding its way through the courts.
The two students – Ruth Lobo and John McLeod – were arrested last fall for participating in an unauthorized protest on campus (see here and here for background information). Subsequently, they sued the university. The university responded by applying to the court to dismiss their claims on the basis that their pleadings (Wikipedia) did not disclose a reasonable cause of action (e.g. their claims were frivolous).
Madam Justice Toscano Roccamo of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled over the summer against the university on this application and allowed the students’ lawsuit to continue but ordered (CanLII) that certain portions of their pleadings be amended. Also, she struck one claim made by the students, namely that the university owed the students a fiduciary duty. Finally, she recently ordered the students to compensate the university for a portion of its costs incurred in the application ($18,400.87 plus tax). Carleton Lifeline, the group Lobo and McLeod were a part of, has posted pleadings revised by the students.
Many students have been arrested before for unauthorized on-campus protests, but the interesting thing about this lawsuit is that the students are trying to assert the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Department of Justice) applies to the university and protects the students’ actions, which is a novel claim prompted by the Pridgen decision. Justice Roccamo commented in her recent judgement that “this litigation raises matters of particular interest to these parties which may result in the evolution of jurisprudence having broad application to universities and students across the country…”
We’ll see where the next step leads.