Me Jacques Demers is being sued by the former de facto spouse of one of his clients, France Pelletier.
After having first been dismissed at first instance for prescription, the lawsuit has just been authorized on appeal and must finally be heard and judged on the merits by the Court of Quebec.
Ms. Pelletier had obtained in 2013 a judgment against her former de facto spouse, Pierre Gagnon, ordering him to pay him various sums and to transfer to him the ownership of a building belonging to them after having had the mortgage written off. Me Demers then assured the court that his client had the necessary funds to pay the amounts claimed.
The following month, he wrote to Ms. Pelletier’s lawyer to tell her that his client, stuck by a judgment from the Court of Quebec, could ultimately not pay him the amounts owed. It appears from the letter that his financial concerns dated back to about nine months and were therefore known at the time of the trial.
In April 2013, two months after the judgment, Mr. Gagnon followed the advice of Me Demers and made an assignment of his property under the Bankruptcy Act.
Ms. Pelletier therefore holds Me Demers responsible for his losses since he should have ensured the financial capacity to pay of his client before notifying the court.
In a judgment dated January 2015 freeing Mr. Gagnon from his bankruptcy (with the exception of debts to Ms. Pelletier), the registrar acknowledges that the latter declared bankruptcy for the sole purpose of not paying the sums due to his ex-wife. Despite this decision, Mr. Gagnon refuses to pay Ms. Pelletier.
She therefore decides to sue Me Demers and claim $ 84,999 in damages for what she considers professional misconduct.
She alleges that, if Me Demers had not confirmed to the court that her client had the financial capacity to pay, the judge would probably have declared her the owner of the property in dispute, without delay and without the conditions provided for in the judgment. Thus, she could have avoided many steps and costs incurred to recover the building from the hands of the trustee.
Me Demers declined to comment as long as the legal process is ongoing.