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CAUT Bulletin Archives

October 2001

Psychiatrist Sues U of T, CAMH

David Healy files lawsuit over breach of contract.

World renowned clinical psychiatrist Dr. David Healy is suing the University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for breach of contract, defamation and denial of academic freedom.

Healy was offered and accepted the position of clinical director of the mood and anxiety disorders program with CAMH and professor of psychiatry with the University of Toronto last year. His contract was revoked suddenly following a lecture he gave in November critical of the role of pharmaceutical companies in medical research.

"The essence of our legal claim is that there was an employment contract that was unilaterally breached by CAMH and U of T," said Peter Rosenthal, Healy's lawyer. "We also allege that breaking Dr. Healy's contract violated the principle of academic freedom and that Dr. Healy has been seriously libelled."

"All attempts I've made to engage the university and the centre in a discussion about what really happened after my lecture on Nov. 30 have been rebuffed," Healy said. "It is this lack of engagement that has led to the current legal action."

The lawsuit is seeking damages in excess of $9 million, and Healy is planning to use any monetary awards beyond the costs of the case and his immediate damages to establish a trust fund to promote and defend academic freedom.

"What concerns me most at this point is the impact of what happened to me on academic freedom generally," Healy stated.

CAUT has pledged its support for Healy. "This case has serious implications for university researchers and for the public at large," said executive director Jim Turk. "The integrity of clinical research depends on open and critical appraisal. When that is restricted, good science is jeopardized and the public welfare is put at risk."

Also named in the lawsuit are Dr. Paul Garfinkel, president and chief executive officer of CAMH, and Dr. David Naylor, dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Toronto, both of whom are alleged to have libelled Healy and violated his academic freedom.