On December 17, 2019, in VMY v SHG, [2019] OJ No 6702, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Court) recognized the tort of publicity placing person in false light. This new tort is the fourth, and final, privacy tort, identified by the American Restatement (Second) of Torts (2010) (Restatement), recognized by Ontario courts. The three other privacy torts identified by the Restatement and recognized by Ontario courts include misappropriation of personality, intrusion upon seclusion, and public disclosure of private facts.

In the decision, the Court found that the father, VMY, posted content publicly online of his two children, as well as their mother, SHG. Specifically VWY posted videotaped court-ordered access visits with commentary critical of SHG and the children. In examining the best interests of the children, the invasion of their privacy, and the effects of the cyberbullying, the Court concluded that VMY did not put his children’s needs first and made various determinations with respect to custody, access, support, and other issues.

The Court found that in order to establish the tort of publicity placing person in false light the plaintiff must prove:

  1. the false light in which one was placed would be highly offensive to a reasonable person; and
  2. the actor had knowledge of or acted in reckless disregard as to the falsity of the publicized matter and the false light in which the other would be placed.

In this case, the Court found that VMY made serious allegations online about SHG, including that she was a kidnapper, abused her children, drugged her children, forged documents, and defrauded governments. The Court found all of these allegations to be false and highly offensive to a reasonable person.  The Court also found that VMY had been, at the very least, reckless of the false light in which he placed SHG. As such, the Court found that both elements of the tort were established and awarded SHG damages.

Summary By: Alessia Monastero


20 02 26

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