Teacher awarded $234K in slander lawsuit

A Quebec Superior Court judge has ordered a couple to pay $234,011.87 to their son's former teacher for defaming her, on a finding that the parents intentionally destroyed the teacher's reputation.

A Quebec Superior Court judge has ordered a couple to pay $234,011.87 to their son's former teacher for defaming her.

The judge said the parents intentionally destroyed the reputation of Grade 4 French immersion teacher Mary Kanavaros.

In May 2005, the parents, Hagop Artinian and Kathryn Rosenstein, originally sued the teacher for $155,000.

The couple claimed Kanavaros bullied their son in front of his classmates.

As the trial was set to start, the parents offered to settle, agreeing Kanavaros had done nothing wrong

The parties reached a confidential agreement, in which the parents would receive $5,000 from the English Montreal School Board, with no admission of liability or responsibility.

Both parties also agreed to keep the settlement confidential.

However, when the parents left the courtroom, they shared details of the settlement with reporters and voiced remarks about Kanavaros, saying they had made their point about respecting children.

Judge has strong words

Kanavaros sued for damages over the breach of the confidentiality agreement and defamation arising from the parents' courthouse comments.

In addition to general damages, Judge Danielle Richer awarded $25,000 in punitive damages and was critical of the parents' actions.

In her decision last week, Richer said the parents took justice into their own hands, betrayed the confidentiality agreement and behaved maliciously.

The judge also said that professionals such as teachers may spend years building their reputations and can have them destroyed in minutes by television, the internet and newspapers.

The head of the Montreal Teachers Association, Ruth Rosenfield, said Kanavaros has been on sick leave since 2008 and is still feeling the effects of the ordeal.

"She hasn't been able to live her life in any normal way," Rosenfield said.

"She's been in an extreme depressed state."

The parents said they will appeal the ruling.