2 former uToronto students who failed to sue institution for $80 million can try again, judge says

February 1, 2013

An Ontario Court of Appeal judge ruled last Wednesday that a pair of former University of Toronto students who unsuccessfully tried to sue the institution for $80 million for issuing them failing grades can try again. According to court documents, the students, a married couple, enrolled in PhD programs in 2007 but soon deferred their studies to care for an ill family member in Iran. They re-enrolled in fall 2008 but returned to Iran after the relative's illness "progressed." In the ensuing "confusion" over the couple's sudden absence in class, uToronto issued them 3 failing grades for the fall term. After the couple returned to Iran in the winter term to make funeral arrangements for the relative, uToronto issued 2 more failing grades and began taking steps to have the couple expelled. The couple filed for 3 internal appeals but all were rejected, and in May 2012 they tried to take their case to court. In their statement of claim, the couple sought "approximately 80-million dollars" and fingered both uToronto and 18 university employees for a litany of allegations, including "conspiracy to injure," "misfeasance in public office," and several human rights violations. Court documents show the couple, who are representing themselves, were "asking for damages arising from the university's alleged failure to comply with its contractual obligations." 3 months after the couple first filed their statement of claim, a judge tossed it out, citing the legal procedure that covers "frivolous or vexatious" lawsuits. The appeal court judge ruled that as long as everything the pair was saying is true, there is a chance that some of their claims are not "bound to fail." The judge gave the pair a 30-day deadline to "perfect their appeal." National Post