The Supreme Court of Canada has declined to hear the case of a former Dawson City couple awarded more than $800,000 in damages for defamation, only for a new trial to be ordered. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file) The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. An Alberta woman who was granted a new trial by the Supreme Court of Canada has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the fatal shooting of her domestic partner. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Supreme Court of Canada dismisses Dawson defamation case

The Supreme Court of Canada has declined to hear the case of a former Dawson City couple awarded more than $800,000 in damages for defamation, only for a new trial to be ordered.

The country’s highest court dismissed Angela and Michael Senft’s application for leave to appeal on Sept. 24, and also ordered the couple to pay the legal costs for respondents Audrey Vigneau and Susan Hermann.

As is typical, the court did not provide reasons for dismissing the application.

It’s the latest in a legal saga stemming from a dispute over the ownership of a house on Dome Road, the original owner of which has since died.

The Senfts sued Vigneau and Hermann for defamation in 2017 after the women made statements on Facebook, to media and in letters alleging that the couple was taking advantage of senior Daniele McRae.

McRae had added the Senfts to the property title for her house in 2010 but kicked them out seven years later, leading the couple to sue her for access. The matter was eventually settled outside of court, but, before that, Vigneau and Hermann had attempted to raise support for McRae, starting a GoFundMe for her legal fees and putting letters into 832 mailboxes at the Dawson post office, among other things.

A Yukon Supreme Court jury found the women guilty of defamation following a trial in early 2019, awarding the Senfts more than $800,000 in damages.

The figure was believed to be one of the largest, if not the largest, amount ever awarded for a defamation suit in the Yukon.

However, the Yukon Court of Appeal overturned that decision, finding the trial judge had not given the jury proper instructions and ordering a new trial.

The Senfts then took their case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

It’s not yet clear if and when the new trial will occur.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Supreme Court

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