Rogers’ legal team in the Small Claims Court action of
Susan G. Drummond v. Rogers Wireless Inc (SC-05-24969-00)
In House Counsel
Vice President Vice President
General Counsel Associate General Counsel
Rogers Communications Inc. Rogers Communications Inc.
When Rogers Wireless Inc shut off my 12 year old son’s cell phone just before he took the Toronto Subway for the first time in his life, within days I had embarked upon my first formal legal dispute with Rogers. Assuming that the suspension of wireless services to my son’s cell phone was related to the theft of my cell phone and the over $14,000 of charges that Rogers was claiming that I owed the corporation, I immediately began to dispute Rogers actions.
On September 3, 2006 I began sending a flurry of letters to Rogers’ Customer Complaints Department, then Roger’ Legal Department, and then the legal clerk assigned to my case asking why on earth Rogers had seen fit to shut my 12 year old son’s cell phone off just days before he rode the subway alone for the first time in his life – and a full 8 days before my invoice was even due. My son’s cell phone, afterall, had never been lost or stolen.
The assignment of a law clerk to deal with matters relating to Noah’s cell phone coincided with my attempts, as per the contract, to dispute the $14,000 charges.
So Rogers’ first line of defence was a law clerk.
To respond to the plaintiff’s claim that I submitted on September 19, 2005, Rogers’ legal department farmed out the legal work to an outside firm, Lang Michener, LLP. Lang Michener assigned a recent graduate from Queen’s law school to handle my case.
In the culture of the legal profession, Small Claims Court work is generally considered to be below the competencies of lawyers who have been called to the bar. After all, the majority of parties are self-represented. Even a first year law student will be better armed than most parties that appear before a Small Claims Court judge. Small Claims Court work presents a bit of an embarrassment of arms for the qualified lawyer.
For this reason, the Small Claims Court work that comes the way of a big Bay Street law firm like Lang Michener, LLP is typically handled by articling students who may not yet have had an opportunity to flex the legal skills they spent three years acquiring at law school.
In my case, the file got assigned to a young associate at Lang Michener who had just graduated from Queen’s University Law School two years earlier. I can imagine that an associate at a big Bay Street law firm might feel that he or she has been demoted in being assigned to a Small Claims Court file.
I became aware that both Graeme H. McPhail and David P. Miller (VP General Counsel) are also involved in the case of Drummond v. Rogers (SC-05-24969-00) because when I told the young associate as I handed him my amended pleadings on March 3, 2006, that I had entered Rogers’ October 14, 2006 “Offer of Settlement” into my amended pleadings as an exhibit, making it part of the court record and also available to the public, he had quite an reaction.
“You did what?!?” he asked.
I explained that in my opinion Rogers’ October 14, 2005 “Offer of Settlement”, which is ordinarily excluded as evidence from the trial judge’s perusal, had become relevant as evidence to my claim for punitive damages. Part of the criteria for a finding of punitive damages is that the Defendant attempted to coerce the Plaintiff into accepting an unfair offer of settlement. I had to submit proof that Rogers had done so.
The young associate told me that he was going to take my amended pleadings and head directly to Graeme McPhail and David Miller and the Rogers team would immediately get a motion to strike the “Offer of Settlement” from the record.
I had been aware that Graeme McPhail was involved on the file as I had been sending legal documents to him.
“Who’s David Miller?” I asked.
The associate told me that David Miller was the VP General Counsel at Rogers and with Graeme McPhail and himself, the three of them were working together on my Small Claims Court case.
The fourth lawyer, Donald Plumley, QC, a partner at Lang Michener, joined the legal team in July of 2006 to tell me that if I was determined to summons Mr. Rogers to testify in the case, then I could serve the summons through his offices … and he would immediate move to have it quashed.