Did Manulife make “deliberately false” statements?

On January 16, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rejected an application by Manulife Financial to dismiss the action against it in Sells v. Manulife, 2014 ONSC 715.

The judgment is found at: Sells v Manulife, 2014 ONSC 715.

The plaintiffs in this action are former agents of Manulife. Their essential claim for their damages against Manulife is that Manulife made very serious but false and misleading statements regarding the plaintiffs’ work and practices while with Manulife which Manulife knew or ought to have known would make it impossible for the plaintiffs to obtain new employment. Manulife knew that those allegations on their regulatory record would come to the attention of the regulators and any potential employer of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs allege, in the alternative, that Manulife’s false  statements were false and wrongful and represent a negligent misrepresentation causing the plaintiffs’ damages.

What is most significant is that the plaintiffs’ main claim in the action is that those false misleading and wrongful statements were deliberately false and not in good faith and constituted an intentional interference in the plaintiffs’ continued employment, especially as Manulife knew or ought to have known that the plaintiffs, as a result, would no longer be able to continue their chosen profession as investment advisors.

The court ordered that Manulife’s application be dismissed, and that Manulife pay costs to the plaintiffs.

Manulife was represented by in-house counsel, Blair Anderson. Some years earlier Mr. Anderson was a witness in a case against Manulife which went to the Ontario Court of Appeal. The OCA discussed Mr. Anderson’s actions at paragraph 46 of: Manulife v Ward, 2007 ONCA 881.