Ottawa Hospital director accused of fraud was 'loyal and honest,' defence claim says

Brock Marshall is countersuing the Ottawa Hospital, claiming he was a "team player" who never accepted inappropriate gifts or kickbacks from would-be hospital vendors.

Brock Marshall says he didn't accept inappropriate kickbacks

Former Ottawa Hospital director Brock Marshall is countersuing the hospital for $4.5 million after being accused of fraud and embezzlement. (Danny Globerman/CBC)

A former Ottawa Hospital director accused of fraud and embezzlement is countersuing for defamation and negligence, claiming he was a "team player" and a "loyal and honest" employee who never accepted inappropriate gifts or kickbacks.

Brock Marshall was one of two longtime Ottawa Hospital directors named in a statement of claim filed in January 2016 by the hospital, which accused the pair of defrauding the institution in exchange for luxury vacations, family favours and deep personal discounts.

Marshall spent 28 years working for the hospital, later serving as the director of engineering and operations for all three of its campuses, before retiring in 2015.

This claim slanders the reputation of [Marshall], a dedicated, loyal and honest former employee.- Brock Marshall's statement of defence

In its original statement of claim, the Ottawa Hospital accused Marshall and another former director, Frank Medwenitsch, of sharing with potential vendors information about competitors' bids, advanced and draft copies of procurement documents, and internal hospital communications.

In addition to Medwenitsch and Marshall, the other defendants listed in the statement of claim are five Ottawa construction firms.

In return for giving those vendors a leg up, Marshall and Medwenitsch received unapproved "hospitality gifts, trips and payments," according to the hospital's statement of claim.

Among the hospital's allegations against Marshall are that he and his family received cars and home renovations from potential vendors "either below cost or at no cost," and that he also received free tickets to sporting events.

In his statement of defence, Marshall said he paid a "fair" price for the cars and the renovations. While he did accept tickets to "a couple of games over the years," Marshall said that he believed he declared the tickets as gifts — and that other Ottawa Hospital employees, including senior executives, also accepted free tickets.

He also outright denied giving vendors "inside information," claiming that the hospital's project managers were "involved in every step of the tender process."

"This claim slanders the reputation of [Marshall], a dedicated, loyal and honest former employee of the plaintiff," his statement reads.

"It is a series of generalizations that may apply to others but certainly does not apply to Brock."

Medwenitsch has already filed his own response to the hospital's allegations, in which he denounces any claims of wrongdoing made against him.

None of the claims made by Marshall, Medwenitsch, or the Ottawa Hospital have been tried in court.

Also targets current hospital COO

When Marshall was contemplating having the home renovations performed, he advised his supervisor, Cameron Love, the hospital's current chief operating officer, according to the statement of defence.

Love "did not seem to care," and had also had work carried out on his property by the contractor, Marshall's statement said.

A forensic investigation cleared Ottawa Hospital chief operating officer Cameron Love of any wrongdoing after he had home renovations carried out by a contractor used by the hospital between 2004 and 2011. (CBC)

Love disclosed during an investigation into the Ottawa Hospital's planning department that he had renovations done on his home on a number of occasions between 2004 and 2011 by a contractor also used by the hospital.

In 2016, the investigation cleared Love of any wrongdoing.

"In 2004/05, work was performed by one of the defendants named in the suit. In 2011, he [Love] had work done on his home by a hospital contractor who is not a defendant in the suit," Allison Neil, the hospital's executive vice-president of communications, told CBC News.

The hospital said Love paid for the work personally and disclosed the information to his supervisor.

"The investigation has found no improper influence over contractor procurement, collusion with contractors or wrongdoing by Cameron Love."

Love's name also comes up frequently in Medwenitsch's statement of defence, with both Medwenitsch and Marshall accusing him of failing ro respect guidelines established by Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care when it came to procuring contracts.

"In cases where construction projects were approved through Ministry guidelines, Cameron Love at times directed Hospital staff to allocate the cost of other projects on the Ministry-funded project in question, without the Ministry's knowledge or consent," said Marshall in his defence.

Marshall seeking $4.5M

The hospital lawsuit also claims Medwenitsch and Gerry Dubé, the president of DRS Construction — one of the co-accused contractors — colluded to extort Marshall to pay out "unsupported and improper invoices" from DRS dating to 2010.

According to Marshall's statement of defence, while there was an attempt to coerce him to approve "dubious" DRS invoices, he never bowed to the pressure.

In his counterclaim, Marshall is seeking $4.5 million from the Ottawa Hospital: $2 million for negligence, $2 million for defamation, and $500,000 in punitive damages.

The claim says Marshall was the victim of "an incomplete, inadequate and negligent" investigation and that he was the "scapegoat for the failure of the hospital's executives to require compliance with the written hospital priorities and to provide appropriate oversight and management."

"Brock has been unable to obtain suitable employment or contracts and will likely continue to be unable to obtain suitable employment or contracts, hereafter," the claim states.

"He has suffered significant financial and emotional damages and will continue to suffer them for the rest of his life." 

Brock Marshall statement of defence and counterclaim

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With files from Amanda Pfeffer