On Campus

Be careful what you sue for

Students are becoming increasingly litigious, but it doesn’t always pay off. In fact it can be quite costly, as a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision has made very clear.

According to a Laurentian University Monday press release, three students who sued the school have been ordered to restitute the university to the handsome tune of $38, 000. The appeal court upheld a previous ruling by the Ontario Superior Court from last summer. That ruling had ordered the students pay $23, 000!

And what was the students’ complaint? Well, they were denied entry into Laurentian’s biology graduate program. Unfortunately, details are presented rather cryptically, but the case is related to another lawsuit where a group of 24 undergraduate and graduate students, including the three in the other suit, had launched a $30 million claim.

In the latter case, the behavioural neuroscience students had set up a project involving lab rats, but the university’s Animal Care Committee had rejected their research protocol. After the protocol was rewritten, the students were allowed back into the lab, only to be locked out again after the animal facility’s veterinarian had made an inspection.

Their complaint alleged breach of contract and “defamation of their future careers and the program they will be graduating from.”

This case has also been largely dismissed, as the Laurentian release stated:

“On May 17, 2007, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the relief requested by the university and dismissed the students’ claims against 16 of the named individuals on the grounds that there was no basis for a claim of wrongdoing against these individuals. In addition, three of the students consented to a dismissal of all of their claims against Laurentian and the remaining two individuals. The university maintains that the remaining allegations against it and the two individuals are without merit and has filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Sudbury a Statement of Defence denying the allegations that have been made and setting out its response.”