Brian Burke Defamation Lawsuit

Brian Burke can file defamation lawsuit to anonymous online posters, B.C. Supreme Court rules.


Brian Burke, former Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager, can file defamation lawsuit to anonymous online posters, a B.C. Supreme Court rules.

This unique and seemingly unprecedented ruling permits Burke to serve papers via private messages on the discussion board where the rumour had allegedly started and gained traction in the blogosphere and on social media channels. Burke claims that 18 anonymous individuals had posted defamatory and slanderous comments about him having extra-marital affairs with a female sportscaster. This latest ruling potentially underscores the courts flexibility in confronting and dealing with the realities of digital media.

Criminal lawyer Boris Bytensky was an expert guest on NewsTalk1010 with host Jerry Agar to discuss this exceptional case and how it might unfold. Mr. Bytensky highlights how this case is radically different from traditional lawsuits in two ways. The first major divergence is that defendants, whether they be individuals or corporations, are specifically named in a lawsuit whereas in this case the defendants are only known by their obscure internet handles. Secondly, the mode in which the defendants are being served their papers, through private messages on a discussion forum, is profoundly different than being notified of the lawsuit in person.

Mr. Bytensky stresses that because of the anonymity of the defendants, the likelihood that Burke will be monetarily compensated in this lawsuit are negligible, and may not even be his goal. Burke, Mr. Bytensky believes, is pursuing this lawsuit to uphold his reputation and show that these allegations are untrue.

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