An Edmonton Remand Centre guard allegedly told criminology students on a facility tour that lawyers from a firm wanted face-to-face meetings with clients in order to smuggle drugs to them.
In a lawsuit filed Monday, lawyers with Engel Law in Edmonton allege guard Edsel Lim made that claim "multiple times" to a visiting class of University of Alberta criminology students.
The firm also alleges Lim made vulgar statements about how women use their vaginas and uteruses to smuggle drugs into the remand centre.
"Lim stated that 'the firm that always sues us' smuggles drugs into the ERC (Edmonton Remand Centre) using in-person, lawyer-client meetings," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims it is "widely known" that the law firm headed by Tom Engel — which includes his daughter Kate, Amanda Hart-Dowhun and Samantha Labahn — is "the law firm in Edmonton that sues ERC administration and staff, makes complaints about mistreatment of ERC prisoners, and raises complaints as Charter breaches in criminal prosecutions.
"At least one member of the tour group understood that Lim was referring to Engel Law," the lawsuit states, adding that "a female lawyer employed by Engel Law had filed a lawsuit against Lim in the past."
Drug smuggling allegations
According to the lawsuit, Lim told the students "the female lawyer that sued him is one of the lawyers that smuggles drugs into the ERC.
"Lim stated that females were particularly bad for smuggling drugs into the ERC and that female lawyers 'suitcase drugs in their uteruses,' " the lawsuit states.
"Lim pointed to female members of the tour group and said 'the issue is with you people' and said that 'if vaginas can fit a baby, they can suitcase drugs.' "
Lim allegedly told the group he could not name the law firm because he would be sued.
The lawsuit alleges that during the same tour, Lim told the students he did not like lawyers and their requests for face-to-face meetings with clients, and if he could, "he would pat down every lawyer that enters ERC and stop lawyers from entering the ERC."
The lawsuit states that the statements allegedly made by Lim are untrue, and have lowered the reputation of the firm and its lawyers.
Before filing the lawsuit, the firm formally complained about Lim's statements to Alberta Justice. But the lawsuit claims the department "failed to take any reasonable action" despite Lim being responsible for training new employees and being in charge of granting visits by lawyers with clients.
Engel Law is seeking $75,000 in punitive damages from Lim and the province. The allegations have not been proven in court and no statement of defence has been filed.