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Chandra v. Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Closed Mixed Outcome

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Audio / Visual Broadcasting
  • Date of Decision
    July 3, 2015
  • Outcome
    Dismissed
  • Case Number
    2015 ONSC 3945
  • Region & Country
    Canada, North America
  • Judicial Body
    First Instance Court
  • Type of Law
    Civil Law
  • Themes
    Defamation / Reputation
  • Tags
    Journalism, Privacy

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

In 2011, nutrition researcher Ranjit Kumar Chandra brought a lawsuit against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for defamation and invasion of privacy in response to a documentary in 2006 that examined allegations of scientific fraud and financial  deception committed by him.

After a 58-day trial before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the jury ruled in favor of CBC, finding that the documentary contained true statements and that the company did not commit an invasion of privacy. The attached decision also included an interim ruling on the admissibility of evidence.

Columbia Global Freedom of Expression notes that some of the information contained in this report was derived from secondary sources.


Facts

In 2006, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired a three-part documentary that examined allegations of fraud against Ranjit Kumar Chandra, a nutrition researcher. [1] The documentary claimed to have “uncovered a pattern of scientific fraud and financial deception dating back to the [1980]s.” It also accused him of using “a fake name to write a paper that bolstered his work.” [2]

In 2011, Chandra brought a lawsuit with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against CBC for defamation and invasion of privacy. He sought 123 million dollars in damages. [3]

[1] iMediaEthics, CBC Didn’t Libel Nutrition Researcher with 2006 Documentary, (Aug. 17, 2015), http://www.imediaethics.org/cbc-didnt-libel-nutrition-researcher-with-2006-documentary/.

[2] Retraction Watch, Nutrition Researcher Chandra Loses Libel Case Against CBChttp://retractionwatch.com/2015/07/31/nutrition-researcher-chandra-loses-libel-case-against-cbc/.

[3] Retraction Watch, Nutrition Researcher Chandra Loses Libel Case Against CBChttp://retractionwatch.com/2015/07/31/nutrition-researcher-chandra-loses-libel-case-against-cbc/.


Decision Overview

Following a jury trial, the court entered judgment in favor of CBC on the grounds that the claims alleged in its documentary were true. Specifically, the allegations that Chandra had fabricated scientific results and reported them to various sources were found to be factually true. This was in line with the claims in the documentary. The jury also rejected Chandra’s invasion of privacy claim.

In an interim decision on the admissibility of evidence, CBC sought to introduce an interrogatory from a prior civil action brought by Chandra against Health Care Corporation of St. John’s and its employee for allegedly removing data and other records relating to a research study conducted by him. The Court allowed the introduction of the interrogatory. It found that even though the employee whose interrogatory sought to be admitted was not a party to the current litigation, she still remained a key witness in the case. It also found that the interrogatory was admissible under the general inclusionary rule of evidence.

 


Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Mixed Outcome

This case doesn’t really expand or contract expression. It is a principle of law in many countries that truth is a defense to a libel action. Here, truth was a defense to the libel action and therefore the documentary was allowed to stand.

Global Perspective

Quick Info

Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

National standards, law or jurisprudence

  • Can., Ring v. Canada, 2000 NLTD 39 (CanLII)
  • Can., Guman v. Doucette 2008 1 S.C.R. 157
  • Can., Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 310.1.01
  • Can., Prudential Assurance Co Ltd v. Fountain Page Ltd [1991] 1 WLR 756

Other national standards, law or jurisprudence

  • Can., Distillers Co (Biochemicals) Ltd v. Times Newspapers Ltd [1975] QB 613

Case Significance

Quick Info

Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

This case did not set a binding or persuasive precedent either within or outside its jurisdiction. The significance of this case is undetermined at this point in time.

Official Case Documents

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