Two Laurier professors sue former TA who recorded disciplinary meeting

Two Ontario university professors who are being sued for defamation by controversial author and professor Jordan Peterson over comments made during a private meeting allege a former teaching assistant who recorded the conversation is responsible for its broader publication.

Nathan Rambukkana and Herbert Pimlott, who teach at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., maintain their comments about Peterson were not defamatory but argue in a third-party claim that they could not have known the statements would be recorded or disseminated outside the November 2017 meeting.

The pair allege Lindsay Shepherd, then a teaching assistant, had “power and control” over the recording and the distribution of the conversation, and meant for the contents of the meeting to potentially become widely available and discussed.

Therefore, they argue, should the court find Peterson suffered damages or injuries, those would be “attributable to Shepherd and her publication and dissemination” of the recording.

The allegations have not been proven in court and Shepherd’s lawyer says the young woman has not yet been served with the document.

Howard Levitt says that while he has not seen the claim, his client will defend herself against the allegations. He further says the professors’ argument makes no sense considering the conversation was also shared by media outlets and others.

“Why don’t you sue all the news agencies…that published it, if that’s really your position?” Levitt told The Canadian Press.

Neither Rambukkana nor Pimlott immediately responded to requests for comment, but they have previously denied the allegations in Peterson’s lawsuit.

At the heart of both suits is a 2017 meeting between the professors, a Laurier staff member and Shepherd, who was then a teaching assistant in Rambukkana’s communications class.

According to Peterson’s unproven statement of claim, the disciplinary meeting was called after Shepherd showed students an excerpt of a TVOntario broadcast in which Peterson defends his opposition to gender-neutral pronouns.

Peterson, a University of Toronto psychology professor who has gained international attention for his views on free speech and political correctness, alleges in his suit that the professors and staff member compared him to Adolf Hitler and accused him of being a “charlatan” over the course of the meeting.

Shepherd recorded the discussion and later provided the audio to media outlets who requested it. However, Peterson’s suit alleges that the audio was posted to YouTube, where Peterson — who is seeking $1.5 million in damages — alleges anyone searching his name online could be exposed to it.

“This has a significant impact on Peterson’s reputation among those with whom he deals, including fellow academics, future or existing students, the university where he works and those whom might read his books or listen to his lecture,” his statement of claim said.

Peterson further alleges Wilfrid Laurier University is liable for the conduct of its employees.

Shepherd, meanwhile, has filed her own lawsuit against Laurier claiming the university behaved negligently and left her unemployable in academia after the incident. She declined to comment on the latest suit because she has not seen the claim.

Wilfrid Laurier University said it would fight both Peterson’s and Shepherd’s lawsuits.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

More than 400 COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta Wednesday, according to multiple reports. (File photo)
Over 400 additional COVID-19 cases Wednesday

3,372 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta

A 47-megawatt solar power project has been proposed for a site southwest of the Nova Chemicals petrochemical complex.
Map contributed
$52-million solar power project proposed for Joffre

Project to be built southwest of Nova Chemicals plant could be producing power by the end of 2021

AnnaMarie Lea, artistic director of Lacombe’s Cow Patti Theatre, thinks a lot of people would love to focus on something other than the pandemic, with a few hours of entertainment. (Contributed photo).
Some Red Deer-area shows will go on — with new pandemic precautions

Some theatrical productions are happening under new rules

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer will be at the legislature Thursday to urge members of the UCP caucus to drop the plan to consolidate EMS dispatch by Jan. 4. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Red Deer mayor takes EMS consolidation fight to Edmonton

Mayors of Red Deer, Lethbridge, Calgary and Wood Buffalo to address UCP caucus on Thursday

Harold Lehmann, 91, used a stationary bike to cycle 24,900 miles over the past two years. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer senior uses stationary bike to cycle distance of world

Harold Lehmann cycled 24,900 miles over the course of two years

Pope Francis waves to faithful at the end of the weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Francis becomes 1st pope to endorse same-sex civil unions

Francis becomes 1st pope to endorse same-sex civil unions

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2006, file photo, actor Sacha Baron Cohen arrives in character as Borat for the film premiere of "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. Cohen's sequel "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," will be released on Friday, Oct. 23. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
Borat is back, and this time he fits right in

Borat is back, and this time he fits right in

A bottle of hand sanitizer is seen in Vancouver on October 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Experts say counterfeit hand sanitizer recall at Dollarama is a lesson for retailers

Experts say counterfeit hand sanitizer recall at Dollarama is a lesson for retailers

Manitoba premier Brian Pallister speaks to media prior to the reading of the Speech from the Throne at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg on October 7, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Manitoba government raises fines for COVID-19 violations amid higher numbers

Manitoba government raises fines for COVID-19 violations amid higher numbers

Officials in Toronto and Montreal strike differing tones on COVID-19 in their cities

Officials in Toronto and Montreal strike differing tones on COVID-19 in their cities

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 6, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Feds say 100,000 rapid COVID-19 tests have arrived, being distributed to provinces

Feds say 100,000 rapid COVID-19 tests have arrived, being distributed to provinces

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

Most Read