TORONTO — A man who failed in a lawsuit against a company he said had promised to find him a job can have another crack at suing in light of a TV program that cast doubt on whether the defendants had told the truth, Ontario’s top court ruled Tuesday.
In what the Appeal Court called “most unusual” circumstances, the justices said a lower court was wrong to deny Golam Mehedi a chance to reopen his case given the post-trial broadcast.
“It is plain that the proposed new evidence was not available at the time of the first trial or the first appeal,” the Appeal Court ruled.
“The new evidence is cogent in that it is apparently credible and, if accepted, would probably have affected the result at trial.”
Mehedi had claimed that Toronto-based Job Success — run by M.A. Hameed, Wendell Lacombe and owner Dale Smith — had promised to find him a job paying $70,000 a year within two months, in exchange for a $3,700 fee.
In June 2011, the trial judge threw his case out, saying no one had made any promises to Mehedi. The judge said he found Hameed and Lacombe had been credible witnesses and called Mehedi’s job expectations “unrealistic and unreasonable.”
Mehedi turned, without success, to the Court of Appeal in January 2012.
A month later, however, CBC’s “Marketplace” broadcast an episode called “Recruitment Rip-off” that cast doubt on the trial evidence Hameed and Lacombe had given. The program used hidden cameras in an effort to show how a recruitment agency known as Toronto Pathways was exploiting the unemployed — mainly new immigrants — by promising to find them good jobs in exchange for fees, according to court records.
In one scene, a “Marketplace” staffer asks Lacombe if he is providing a job-finding guarantee to which he responds, “Absolutely. And we are very good at it.” In another segment, Smith acknowledges Toronto Pathways and Job Success are the same business.
Metro newspaper later reported Smith made similar statements to a reporter posing as a Job Success client. The paper said he had faced at least 10 small-claims actions.
Mehedi asked to reopen his lawsuit so he could enter the new material as fresh evidence, arguing the defendants were “slick liars who perjured themselves at trial,” according to court records.
However, in November, Ontario Superior Court Justice Kevin Whitaker ruled against him.
“I am not persuaded that this is an appropriate case to exercise my discretion to reopen this matter that had already been tried,” Whitaker ruled. “Even if the new evidence was allowed, I do not believe that that would reasonably affect the outcome.”
Mehedi turned again to the Appeal Court.
This time, the province’s top court agreed with him, saying Whitaker’s reasons for refusing to reopen the trial were inadequate.
The Appeal Court ordered the trial judge to take another look at the case, decide on whether to admit the fresh evidence, and if so, whether it would lead to a different outcome.