BRITISH COLUMBIA

Former Mountie who claims he was forced to resign loses B.C. Supreme Court case

07/09/2013 05:04 EDT | Updated 09/08/2013 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - A former Kamloops, B.C., Mountie who claimed he was unfairly treated by the RCMP over his alleged drinking problem has lost his B.C. Supreme Court civil lawsuit.

Brian Flanagan, 60, claimed at trial that he resigned in 2005 after his superiors threatened possible criminal charges and a code-of-conduct review if he did not get treatment for alcoholism.

The court heard one of Flanagan's superiors, Supt. James Begley, was concerned that "the optics" of Flanagan's problem "could prove damaging to the RCMP."

But in a ruling issued this week, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Thomas Melnick said that the court does not have jurisdiction over Flanagan's constructive dismissal claim.

Melnick reasoned that RCMP officers are treated differently from other civil servants in the application of contract law. Remedies for breach of contract are consequently not open to individuals like Flanagan, he said.

Even if there was a contractual relationship, Melnick concluded that Flanagan's superiors acted fairly.

Concerns about Flanagan, who was primarily stationed in B.C. during his 25 years with the force, surfaced in 2004.

In December of that year, Flanagan told the court he was pulled over by Cpl. Ivan Hiscock.

Flanagan testified that Hiscock told him he was impaired, to park his vehicle and that he would drive him home.

The officer, who was off duty, did not take any sobriety tests and picked up his car the next morning. He was never charged.

The incident was reported to Flanagan's superiors, however, and he was eventually referred to an addiction specialist, who in turn recommended Flanagan get treatment.

But Flanagan consulted his own doctor and a psychologist, in addition to the Internet, and decided that, although he had abused alcohol in the past, he was not dependent and did not need treatment.

Flanagan's superiors then got more aggressive, classifying him as unfit for all duties and ordering him to get treatment at Edgewood facility in Nanaimo.

Although the judge questioned whether Flanagan could be ordered to attend a treatment facility, he said in his ruling that Flanagan's superiors acted reasonably.

Flanagan also asked for damages for a letter he claimed was "malicious."

RCMP health services officer Ian MacDonald wrote the B.C. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles about Flanagan's drinking after the resignation.

Melnick ruled the letter — which resulted in the suspension of Flanagan's driver's licence — was inappropriate, but he did not award damages.

"MacDonald's report was unlawful in this sense because he was not in a doctor-patient relationship with Flanagan and had not warned him that it was dangerous for him to drive, both of which are required to report a person to the (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles)..." the judge said in his ruling.

Melnick said he would have awarded the former officer more than $115,000 if he had found that MacDonald's report was either false or malicious.