Yukon Safety Officer Sues CBC Over Malicious Web Post

A safety inspector in the Yukon is suing the CBC for publishing what he says is a malicious and professionally damaging attack on its web comment board. According to The Canadian Press, Robert Scott's weight, his competence and his credibility all come under fire in the post, which he says in his statement of claim clearly breaks the national broadcaster's own guidelines. The post names Scott and another man. The other man has not filed a defamation suit.
Scott says his ''ability to work in this community has been severely affected by these libelous statements,'' and he is suing the CBC for $125,000, plus legal expenses and interest. Scott works for the occupational health and safety branch of the Workers Compensation Board. He filed the claim after someone with the user name “BCHimself” posted a long comment on a story about workplace safety charges laid against Procon Mining and Tunnelling. (WCxKit)
Procon, a contracting company for Yukon Zinc Corp., is facing charges after the Oct. 2009 death of 20-year-old Paul Wentzell, who was struck and killed by an unoccupied vehicle on the Wolverine mine site. The charges allege the vehicle was parked on an incline and did not have a proper braking mechanism. In the comment, BCHimself said Yukon health and safety inspectors are ''unqualified to investigate let alone recommend charges be laid against contracting companies such as Procon.''
“BCHimself” goes on to say the inspectors have no previous law enforcement or investigative experience, but that several have union backgrounds ''and have made documented statements that they were out to 'get' contractors due to their not wanting union representation in the workforce.''
That is patently false, Scott says in his statement of claim, but someone reading BCHimself's post would read it as fact, not opinion. The lawsuit says the poster also suggests that overweight former police officers have no business investigating health and safety cases. This comment is ''malicious and cruel,'' Scott claims.
He says the attack on his personal and professional character was ''unsolicited . . . false, libelous, defamatory and filled with malice'' and would make a reasonable person think he has a ''vendetta against contractors.''
Scott read the post on Oct. 13, 2010, the day it was written, and says in his claim that he immediately reported it as abusive via the CBC's comments board. He says the post clearly broke the submission guidelines which list ''personal attacks and defamatory statements'' as unacceptable.
However, the lawsuit says it was still there the next day and wasn't taken down until Oct. 15, after Scott's lawyer called the CBC Whitehorse and CBC Yellowknife offices to complain. Since then, Scott says in his claim that he has demanded an apology and a retraction on the Web site, but that the CBC has done nothing. Even with an apology, Scott claims, the damage is done. (WCxKit)
''Once on the web, there was and is no method to retract the libelous statements,'' he says. ''Anyone reading those comments on the Web site can republish the message by reprinting it and sending it again and again.''
A case management conference for both parties is scheduled for Feb. 8.

Author Robert Elliott
, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information.  Contact:  Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.


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