RCMP join effort to dismiss lawsuit of doctor accused of breaking COVID-19 rules

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FREDERICTON — The RCMP is seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a doctor who says he faced a barrage of racist abuse after he was accused of breaking COVID-19 rules in New Brunswick.

In a motion filed with the Court of Queen's Bench in Moncton, N.B., on July 22, the force seeks to strike out the statement of claim filed by Dr. Jean Robert Ngola on the grounds it "does not disclose a reasonable cause of action."

"The pleadings fail to contain a concise statement of the material facts upon which the plaintiff relies," the motion states.

In late June, the province of New Brunswick also sought to have the suit dismissed for failing to make a reasonable case against the province. The province's motion said the suit's 61-page statement of claim is repetitive, unnecessarily complicated and "an abuse of the process of the court."

Ngola's lawyer, Joel Etienne, said in an email Friday he is in the process of finalizing a response to the motions from the province and RCMP.

"We note that none of the materials filed in court by the defendants provide a satisfactory factual response to the pleadings advanced by Dr. Ngola," he wrote.

Ngola's suit names the province, the RCMP and Facebook's owner, Meta, as defendants.

He was working as a family doctor in Campbellton, N.B., in May 2020 when he was accused of violating the province's Emergency Measures Act amid a growing COVID-19 outbreak. The Crown later withdrew the charge.

The doctor had driven to Montreal to pick up his daughter and had not self-isolated when he returned to New Brunswick. He said he was following the practice of other physicians at his hospital.

The Campbellton outbreak eventually affected about 40 people and resulted in two deaths.

Ngola's suit alleges, among other things, that Premier Blaine Higgs should have known the doctor would face abuse when the premier referred to an "irresponsible"' health-care worker during a news conference in 2020 and said the matter was being handled by the RCMP.

Ngola has said he faced a torrent of racism, hate and threats, and he has asked Higgs to apologize.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2022.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

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