Eric Abramovitz (“Abramovitz”) was recently awarded $350,000 in damages by Justice David Corbett of the Ontario Superior Court to compensate for his former girlfriend’s “reprehensible betrayal of trust” and “despicable interference in Mr. Abramovitz’s career”.
Abramovitz began playing the clarinet at 7 years old. He was an award-winning clarinetist and studied with some of Canada’s most elite teachers by the age of 20. He even performed a solo with Quebec’s symphony orchestra.
Abramovitz applied to the world-class Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles (“Colburn”) when he was in his second year of studies at McGill University. If accepted, this program offers every student a scholarship covering tuition, room and board, and living expenses.
Despite practicing for hours for his once-in-a-lifetime live audition in Los Angeles in February 2014, he subsequently received an email signed by Yehuda Gilad (“Gilad”), an internationally renowned clarinet professor, denying him admission to the program. Following this rejection, Abramovitz proceeded to complete his bachelor’s degree at McGill University, thus delaying his professional music career.
In 2016, Abramovitz again applied to Colburn. During his live audition, Gilad asked Abramovitz why he had re-applied given his earlier acceptance. Abramovitz was shocked to learn that unlike what he had been led to believe, he, in fact, had been accepted to the program at Colburn two years prior. This information prompted him to investigate the rejection letter he had received in 2014, which he had discovered had been fake.
Abramovitz learned that the rejection letter had been sent to him by his then girlfriend, Jennifer Lee (“Lee”). She had logged into Abramovitz’s email account, deleted the actual acceptance letter from Colburn and proceeded to impersonate Gilad. She then created and used a fake email address to deny admission to Abramovitz from Colburn. Lee also impersonated Abramovitz in an email to Gilad to decline the offer to Colburn.
When confronted by Abramovitz, Lee denied that she sent the fake rejection letter and blocked him from her social media account.
Abramovitz proceeded to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit against Lee. She never responded to the lawsuit and therefore lost the lawsuit by default. To be noted in default means that a defendant is deemed to admit the truth of all allegations made in the Statement of Claim.
Abramovitz went on to complete his Bachelor’s Degree at McGill and then attended graduate school at the University of Southern California where Gilad also taught. He proceeded to join the Nashville Symphony as an assistant principal clarinetist and then accepted a similar position in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
In his Statement of Claim, Abramovitz maintained that he could have saved tens of thousands of dollars in tuition money at both McGill and USC had he begun studying with Gilad years earlier. Furthermore, he could have fast-tracked his professional career.
WHAT IS DEFAULT JUDGMENT?
In Ontario, a defendant in a civil action (i.e. a lawsuit between private parties) will be noted in default for failing to file a Notice of Intent to Defend or a Statement of Defence despite being served personally with the Statement of Claim (a document that must be filed with the Court and served on the defendant in which the plaintiff sets out the facts which support the case).
When a defendant is noted in default, they are deemed to admit the truth of all the allegations of fact as set out in the Statement of Claim by the plaintiff. A motion for judgment shall be supported by evidence given by Affidavit if the claim is for unliquidated damages (i.e. damages that cannot be fixed by a mathematical calculation) pursuant to the Rules of Civil Procedure.
DAMAGES AWARDED TO ABRAMOVITZ
In this particular case, Lee did not respond to Abramovitz’s claim and was therefore noted in default. Abramovitz sued Lee for $300,000 in general damages, which included loss of reputation, loss of educational opportunity, and delay in the exercise of his chosen profession.
Abramovitz moved for judgment against Lee and Justice Corbett granted judgment and awarded Abramovitz $300,000 in general damages, $25,000 in punitive damages (damages awarded to punish the defendant), $25,000 in aggravated damages (damages awarded to reflect the exceptional harm done to the plaintiff), and costs in the amount of $25,000.
Lee has been ordered to pay damages for “loss of educational opportunity and loss of income caused by redirection of Mr. Abramovitz’s career resulting from Ms. Lee’s wrongful conduct”. However, Justice Corbett did not award damages for loss of reputation.
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