Former University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Executive Director Sandra Hudson filed a lawsuit claiming $100,000 in damages against the union and its President Mathias Memmel while legal proceedings for a previous lawsuit filed against her were still taking place. Hudson alleged that the UTSU and Memmel breached a mediation agreement after Memmel disclosed information about the then-ongoing lawsuit at an April 29, 2017 Board of Directors meeting.
The UTSU’s lawsuit against Hudson, which was settled in October 2017, alleged civil fraud.
Hudson’s statement of claim, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on May 31, 2017, states that the two parties attended a mandatory mediation on October 6, 2016, after which the UTSU, Hudson, and other attendees signed a mediation agreement. Memmel, at the time serving as UTSU Vice-President Internal and Services, signed the Mediation Agreement on his own behalf.
This agreement contained a “confidentiality provision,” which states, “All written and oral communications made in the course of mediation will be treated as confidential and without prejudice.” All those who signed the mediation agreement were bound by the confidentiality provision, including Memmel.
At an April 29, 2017 Board of Directors meeting, a motion was passed to discuss whether or not to drop the union’s lawsuit against Hudson. Members of the Black Liberation Collective were present in the room to protest the lawsuit. When Memmel’s efforts to move the meeting in camera were met with protests, Memmel publicly went into detail about the lawsuit after consulting with the UTSU’s legal counsel, Andrew Monkhouse.
Hudson’s statement of claim alleges that Memmel breached the confidentiality provision in the mediation agreement when speaking in support of continuing the lawsuit. “In so doing, Memmel referred to the [UTSU’s allegations], and then proceeded to make selective disclosure of confidential discussions and offers allegedly made at the mediation… notwithstanding that members of the public were present and that the Meeting was being video recorded.”
The statement of claim further alleges that the information disclosed by Memmel was “highly prejudicial” to Hudson, and that Memmel tried to make it appear as though Hudson had committed the misconduct for which she was being sued.
“The malicious, high-handed, arrogant and outrageous conduct of the Memmel [sic] and UTSU warrants an award of punitive damages to ensure that they are appropriately deterred from such conduct in the future,” continues Hudson’s statement of claim.
The UTSU and Memmel, as joint defendants, filed a statement of defence in which Memmel denied having disclosed confidential discussions. The statement of defence states that the information disclosed at the meeting was in reference to non-confidential negotiations and therefore not protected by the mediation agreement.
The statement of defence further claims that Memmel’s answers to questions “were a direct result of a major protest, which was organized and encouraged by Ms. Hudson for the purpose of putting pressure on the UTSU executive regarding her other lawsuit.” The statement calls Hudson’s alleged encouragement of others to ask questions and subsequent decision to sue based on the answers to questions “inappropriate.”
“It’s always been our position that all of Hudson’s various claims were and are baseless, and that was clear from the start,” said UTSU Vice-President Internal Daman Singh. “They didn’t factor into our decision to settle, and they’ve all been resolved to our satisfaction.” Singh added that Memmel recused himself from negotiations and did not personally contribute to the union’s decision to settle or the terms around the settlement.
The Varsity has reached out to Hudson for comment.