Former chief medical examiner abandons $7.6M lawsuit against Alberta government

·3 min read
Former Alberta chief medical examiner Dr. Anny Sauvageau has abandoned her $7.6M wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the provincial government.  (CBC - image credit)
Former Alberta chief medical examiner Dr. Anny Sauvageau has abandoned her $7.6M wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the provincial government. (CBC - image credit)

Alberta's former chief medical examiner has walked away from her $7.6-million lawsuit against the provincial government.

Dr. Anny Sauvageau, whose three-year contract was not renewed when it expired at the end of 2014, was suing for loss of income and benefits.

On Thursday, however, an Alberta Justice spokesperson told CBC News in an email that Sauvageau has "discontinued her action on a without costs basis," and that "the government consented to the discontinuance."

"[The Alberta government] did not pay any money or provide any other benefit to her," the spokesperson said.

"There were no other terms to the agreed resolution that the parties reached, and the parties have agreed this statement will be the only public statement they make about the legal proceeding."

Allan Garber, Sauvageau's lawyer, would only say "no comment" when asked if Sauvageau was relieved she did not have to go back to court.

The wrongful dismissal civil trial, which started in Edmonton on April 1 in the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta, lasted eight weeks. The Court of Queen's Bench has since been renamed the Court of King's Bench following the death of Queen Elizabeth.

Sauvageau testified at length about alleged mistreatment by bureaucrats in the justice department. Her chief complaint, however, was about her perceived lack of independence.

In June, when lawyers presented their closing arguments, Justice Doreen Sulyma did not appear to be sympathetic toward Sauvageau and grilled Garber.

"The issue is she was given very qualified legal advice and she didn't like it and she would go to her death with the idea that nobody understood the implications of independence," Sulyma said at the time.

"So what did she expect would happen, Mr. Garber? ... How can they continue this relationship in the face of her digging her heels in?"

Garber acknowledged that the relationship between Sauvageau and her employer was "fractured," but he insisted the government acted in bad faith and that its actions showed "contempt" for his client.

The judge noted that, in hindsight, it seemed inevitable that Sauvageau's contract would not be renewed.

At the time, the lawyer representing the government urged the judge to dismiss Sauvageau's lawsuit.

Former justice minister to be in Court of Appeal

The only remnant of Sauvageau's case is a contempt of court citation against Alberta's former justice minister, Jonathan Denis, who will be the Court of Appeal of Alberta next month.

Sulyma found Denis guilty on the civil charge during the trial, after he sent a letter to Sauvageau's lawyer, while she was on the witness stand, that accused her of defaming him.

Denis asked the Court of Appeal to stay the contempt finding pending an appeal, but that request was denied.

CBC
CBC

He will be back in the Court of Appeal on Oct. 31, Josiah Tweedie, a paralegal with Denis' law firm, Guardian Law Group LLP in Calgary, told CBC News in an email.

"No sanctions have been imposed," Tweedie said.

"Mr. Denis looks forward [to] having his appeal heard and adjudicated."