On Providing Access To Justice

My clients and former clients know that I represent people who have bodily injury claims from medical malpractice or in class action situations. In all of those situations, I provide access to justice to injured people with deserving cases, who pay a fee only if the case has a successful outcome and money is recovered.

But sometimes my sense of injustice causes me to take on a case which is outside of my normal focus on medical malpractice injuries. Some years ago, the former research nurse of one Dr. Ranjit Chandra, came to me with what I thought was a meritorious complaint.

Essentially, Dr. Chandra was a well-known research scientist who was helping to give Memorial University in St. John’s a prominent reputation for the purpose of attracting scientific research funding from granting agencies. His research nurse came across proof that Chandra was conducting fraudulent research and publishing fraudulent scientific papers. She followed the correct channels and it was brought to the attention of the authorities at MUN, who caused a scientific inquiry to be held. The inquiry found that Chandra was engaged in scientific fraud, and believed the evidence of the research nurse. But the university swept everything under the carpet and Chandra carried on practicing his scientific frauds.

The upshot of all this was that the academic charges against Chandra were dismissed, and the administration of MUN kept the enquiry report against Chandra a secret. The inference left was that the research nurse who reported Chandra was a liar. She sought me out, and I sued MUN for a remedy in defamation. The case eventually settled.

In the meantime, Dr. Chandra himself sued the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in defamation over a three-part documentary series that ran in 2006. The suit was tried in Ontario in 2015. A civil jury found that the allegations of research fraud made in the documentary were true. In a decision rendered after the trial, the trial judge ordered that Dr. Chandra pay punitive costs of $1.6 million.

On the scientific side, as recently as October 2015, the British Medical Journal retracted one of Dr. Chandra’s scientific papers and published a lengthy editorial highlighting various misdoings.

There can be great personal and professional satisfaction for a lawyer in occasionally stepping outside the normal practice area – in my case, bodily injury caused by medical malpractice – and pursuing a case of merit for someone who has been gravely wronged and who could not get access to justice otherwise. Dr. Chandra’s research nurse won her case here in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Dr. Chandra lost his case in Ontario, with punishing consequences. Justice was served. But there is one more important piece of unfinished business.

Dr. Chandra received the Order of Canada for his services to science. Now that court proceedings and learned scientific journals have arrived independently at the conclusion that Chandra’s supposed scientific achievements were based on fraud, the idea of him wearing the Order of Canada insignia is intolerable to right thinking Canadians. The Chancellery of the Order should investigate and consider terminating his appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada. To fail to do so would bring discredit to the Order, and leave justice incompletely served.