Two dozen players who were on the University of Ottawa men's hockey team when the team was suspended after an alleged sexual assault in 2014 have been given the go-ahead to launch a class action lawsuit against the school.
The 24 former members of the 2013/14 team, all except the two players facing sexual assault charges, are seeking a combined $6 million in damages alleging their reputations were damaged by the cancellation of the season.
On Monday an Ottawa Superior Court judge certified the lawsuit as a class action, with former forward Andrew Creppin as its representative plaintiff and Lawrence Greenspon as the lawyer.
The team was suspended in March 2014 and the 2014-15 season was subsequently cancelled after the allegations of sexual assault emerged against some players during a team trip to Thunder Bay.
Lawsuit alleges school damaged reputations of players
The two players Greenspon is not representing, Guillaume Donovan and David Foucher, were charged with one count of sexual assault each in connection with an incident at a hotel in Thunder Bay in February 2014. Their trial is expected to begin in August.
The class-action lawsuit alleges the University of Ottawa was negligent and damaged the reputations of the players and caused emotional and/or monetary damage to them.
Creppin said in the lawsuit he and some other members of the team were at the hospital with a teammate who may have drunk too much alcohol and weren't at the hotel at the time of the alleged assault.
But in its statement of defence filed in 2016, the university alleges at least three players had sex with a woman in Thunder Bay while some other team members "in various states of undress" and drunkenness heard it, watched or sometimes took part.
None of the claims of the plaintiff or defendant has been tested in court.
The class action lawsuit says the legal issues will be whether the university owed the players a duty of care, what that duty was, and whether it breached it by its actions.
If the court determines the school breached its care, the court will have to decide how to assess the damages and whether punitive damages are justified.