Patrick Brown wins lawsuit against insurer for libel coverage

·2 min read

Patrick Brown has won a lawsuit against an insurance company to cover his costs in a libel accusation which arose from his tell-all book detailing his fall as leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative party.

Now mayor of Brampton, the former Barrie city councillor, MP and MPP has been awarded his $187,313.41 claim against Sovereign General Insurance Company by Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell in Toronto.

Optimum Publishing International published Brown’s 2018 memoir, Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, after a tumultuous year in which he was accused in a televised report of sexual misconduct.

He denied the allegation, but subsequently resigned as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. He then sued the broadcaster, CTV. That case remains open with no resolution.

After Brown’s book was published, longtime North Bay MPP Vic Fedeli, who now serves as the provincial economic development minister, launched a defamation suit for “a vicious and petulant attack on his character."

The suit settled and Brown issued an apology in March for referring in the book to statements he said a former staffer made about inappropriate conduct by Fedeli. Brown stated: “I did not believe that allegation to be in keeping with Vic Fedeli’s character,” adding he did not intend to suggest inappropriate behaviour on Fedeli’s part.

In the interim, Brown’s legal costs had mounted and the publisher’s insurer refused to cover the costs.

In the publishing agreement with Optimum Publishing, Brown was to be included in its publishing liability insurance, although it didn’t name Brown as an insured, Perell noted.

“Optimum Publishing did not name Mr. Brown as a 'named insured' because it believed that it did not need to do so because it had contracted for insurance coverage that would cover authors,” Perell commented in his decision dated Jan. 21 in favour of Brown.

Brown was first elected to Barrie city council in 2000 and left partway through his second term in 2006 to become the federal MP for Barrie. He failed to win the seat in his first attempt in 2004, losing to Liberal incumbent Aileen Carroll.

He remained the area’s MP until 2015 when he took over the leadership of the Ontario PC Party, replacing Tim Hudak. That July, Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop gave up his seat, allowing Brown to run in a by-election, which he won.

Brown resigned as leader early in 2018 following the sexual misconduct allegation and was forced out of the PC caucus the next month. That fall, he successfully made a bid to become the mayor of Brampton, defeating incumbent Linda Jeffrey.

Dunlop’s daughter, Jill Dunlop, now represents Simcoe North as MPP.

Neither Brown nor the lawyer for the insurance company responded to requests for comment.

Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com