Court tosses class action against Gilbert Rozon brought by women claiming abuse

MONTREAL — In a split decision, Quebec's Court of Appeal has thrown out a lower court ruling authorizing a $10 million class-action lawsuit brought against entertainment impresario Gilbert Rozon.

The founder of Just for Laughs had argued for the province's highest court to overturn the decision allowing the action, by a group of female accusers who dubbed themselves "Les Courageuses," to proceed.

Rozon, 65, denies the women's allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct, which date between 1982 and 2016.

The accusations have not been tested by the courts.

The decision was split — two judges sided with Rozon, but Justice Dominique Belanger said she would've rejected it and let the class action move forward.

Lawyers representing the women said in a statement they were disappointed with the ruling and would seek leave to appeal the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada.

They called the case an important one for all victims of sexual assault in Quebec.

The ruling doesn't look at the allegations, but rather the class-action procedure used by the women instead of proceeding individually against Rozon.

Rozon's lawyer had argued the 2018 Quebec Superior Court decision allowing the class action to continue was an error because the action failed to meet the criteria.

His lawyers argued there was no common link between the allegations or the women bringing them, and the fact it's a "collective movement" doesn't justify a "collective action."

Separately, Rozon is also facing criminal charges — one count of rape and one of indecent assault — for acts allegedly committed in 1980.

That trial will be held in June.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press