Women secretly filmed at massage clinic see little progress on lawsuits 3 years later

·4 min read
Bridget Thornton and Pamela Moxon are suing the estate of deceased Fredericton message therapist Pierre Wust. The lawsuit they filed three years ago has had little progress. (Jon Collicott/CBC - image credit)
Bridget Thornton and Pamela Moxon are suing the estate of deceased Fredericton message therapist Pierre Wust. The lawsuit they filed three years ago has had little progress. (Jon Collicott/CBC - image credit)

Women filmed while dressing are still in limbo three years after they sued the deceased massage therapist who had the recordings.

In July 2019, Bridget Thornton and Pamela Moxon announced they will be representatives for a potential class-action lawsuit against the estate of Pierre Wust and the clinic that employed him. A few days later, Keri Anne Boyce filed a second proposed class action for the same reason.

The lawsuits allege Wust videotaped more than 100 women and minors during his career at Myoflex Massage and Rejuvenation Clinic, which he left in 2017.

"[I'm] very frustrated and just feel as though our case has kind of been put on the back burner," Thornton said in an interview Thursday.

Thornton said COVID-19 delays were to blame at first, but court is back at its regular capacity now.

"The process can take a bit of time to get it certified," she said. "But we were certainly not under the understanding that it would take up to this amount of time."

Wust died in January 2019, and the executor of his estate found the recordings and took them to police.

Fredericton police began identifying and contacting the people in the recordings in early 2019. The women previously said they were horrified when they saw the videos of them at various states on undress before and after appointments with Wust.

But three years later there has been little progress in the cases — except one statement of defence from Wust's estate. In fact, more complications have appeared.

Melanson Law
Melanson Law

Jolanta Kurz, the clinic owner who was named in one of the suits, died of a lengthy illness in June 2020.

Wust's liability insurance company has also denied a request to cover the legal costs of the battle, according to court filings.

And there has been no request for certification of either lawsuit.

Steven Barnett and John McKiggan, lawyers representing the first two plaintiffs, and Brent and Jessica Melanson,  who represent the third plaintiff, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Thornton said she and other women were approached by the lawyers and thought it would be important that there be consequences to Wust's alleged actions even if he's no longer alive.

"I felt that it was important to have a voice," she said. "We were all very much mistreated by someone that was a professional. Someone somehow needs to be held accountable for his actions."

Statement of defence filed in one case

Wust's estate lawyer has filed a statement of defence in one of the lawsuits — the one led by Boyce.

The statement of defence is written on behalf of Wust's executor, Robert Jackson. It says to the best of his knowledge, the photos and videos found in Wust's possession "were not accessed or viewed for any improper purpose."

The statement admits that certain pictures and videos existed in Wust's "personal effects" after his death, but not much beyond that. It says it's unknown who took the videos and denies that the people in the video actually had their privacy breached.

Ed Hunter/CBC
Ed Hunter/CBC

"The Estate has no knowledge of the creation of the alleged photos or videos, and admits only that certain pictures and/or videos existed within the personal effects of Mr. Wust following his death," the statement says.

The statement also says if there was damage to clients' mental health and well-being, it was because of their own negligence.

"The Estate says that the Plaintiff and/or proposed Class Members have failed, refused or neglected to take reasonable, prudent or proper steps to mitigate [injuries, damages or losses]"

Insurance company refuses to pay for defence

This year, Jackson has filed a separate application asking a judge to declare that Wust's insurance company has a duty to cover legal fees and damages.

The application filed in February says Wust has a Novex Insurance Company policy through the Association of New Brunswick Massage Therapists, which covers professional and general liability.

In an affidavit, Jackson says the insurance company has refused to cover the costs of either lawsuit.

He also writes that Wust's estate lawyer was told by Boyce's lawyer that he intends to file his certification motion "in the near future but has not done so to date."

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