Manitoba judge orders CBC to pay $295K in defamation case court costs

A Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judge has ordered CBC Manitoba to pay court costs to a Winnipeg man defamed by the public broadcaster's reports in 2012.

That comes on top of nearly $1.7M in damages already paid to investment adviser

Kenneth Wayne Muzik, seen here in a file photo from an interview with CBC News, has been awarded $295,000 for court costs after a Manitoba judge found the public broadcaster's coverage about the investment adviser was defamatory. (CBC)

A Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench judge has ordered CBC Manitoba to pay court costs to a Winnipeg man after finding its coverage about the man was defamatory.

In December of 2021, the CBC was ordered to pay investment adviser Kenneth Wayne Muzik nearly $1.7 million in damages after a judge heard the coverage negatively affected the Muzik's personal life and ability to earn income.

In a written decision issued March 4, Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Herbert Rempel granted Muzik an additional $295,017 in legal costs.

Neither party could agree on costs and interest and, instead of arguing in front of Rempel, they asked the judge to determine the final costs in another written ruling.

Muzik had testified the reports, which first aired in June 2012, affected his life.

"I am satisfied that Mr. Muzik was truthful in his evidence as to how his personal and professional life spiraled out of control and that all of this was caused by the defamatory expression in the news stories," Rempel said in the first written decision in December.

The news stories focused on a former client of Muzik's, William Worthington, who "expressed profound regret" about relying on Muzik's advice to commute the value of his $675,000 Canadian Pacific Railway pension to an investment portfolio, the December decision said.

That story included Worthington's observations that the value of his pension was "more than half gone" since his retirement and implied he and his wife would be forced to sell their house and go back to work to make ends meet, Rempel wrote.

It also reported Muzik had inflated Worthington's income level in his file to justify higher-risk investments, the decision said. The report also said the adviser was under strict supervision by the Manitoba Securities Commission and had previously been ordered to pay a $15,000 fine for actions contrary to the public interest.

The decision names the public broadcaster and former reporter Gosia Sawicka as defendants. Muzik discontinued action against Worthington and two other CBC employees before the judge-only trial began in 2019.

Rempel's decision noted Muzik and Worthington gave differing recollections at trial about what was said at their meetings, but the judge said he found Muzik's evidence more reliable and Worthington at times untruthful.

The judge said he believed Worthington and his wife, Leslie Worthington, went public with their story to inflict negative publicity in the hopes of getting a settlement from National Bank Financial, where Muzik worked at the time of Worthington's investment.

Muzik testified at the trial that he informed his client about the risks of an economic downturn that would reduce returns and the value of his portfolio.