Karen R. Zimmer*
Karen Zimmer is the leader of our firm’s Defamation + Publication Risk Management Practice Group, and a member of the Business Disputes, Insurance, Franchise, Real Estate, Local Government, Appellate Advisory, Intellectual Property + Technology, and Information + Privacy Practice Groups. Her practice is primarily focused on the following areas of civil and commercial litigation: libel and slander claims, directors and officers liability, complex commercial litigation, society litigation matters, professional regulatory matters, privacy and intellectual property disputes.
She is experienced in pursuing her clients’ interests in urgent interlocutory applications, short and lengthy trials, appeals, arbitrations and mediations. She has appeared at all levels of Court in British Columbia as well as the Yukon Supreme Court and the Human Rights Tribunal.
She has extensive experience in defending professional regulatory bodies, health and school boards, insurance benefit providers, non-profit associations, professionals, insurers and the media, including CBC and radio stations, in a variety of libel and slander matters. She is well versed at defending print communications in the private and public sector, media articles, internet publications including those on Facebook, websites and blogs and radio broadcasts.
Ms. Zimmer believes in the importance of assessing risk exposure early on in her retainer and providing ongoing risk management advice to ensure that contentious matters do not escalate. Where litigation is to be avoided, she is experienced in working with her clients to achieve a resolution.
Ms. Zimmer appreciates that her areas of practice frequently require quick action, and responds accordingly.
- Achieving quick resolution of defamation related disputes where litigation is not appropriate
- Providing governance advise for not-for-profit corporate clients, including drafting Bylaws
- Resolving complex commercial and society litigation matters
- Obtaining various urgent injunctions in commercial litigation matters, including an order to remove a director and shareholder from management
- R. v. Zehaf-Bibeau, 2014 BCPC 253 – Urgent application made on behalf of CBC following the Ottawa shootings for an Order to allow CBC to obtain and broadcast the digital audio recording of the 2011 and 2012 Court proceedings involving Michael Zehaf-Bibeau
- Successfully opposed application for summary judgment and injunction in dispute involving mining clients (2014)
- Obtaining order to remove opposing counsel due to a conflict of interest
- Peak Innovations Inc. v. Pacific Rim Brackets Ltd., 2009 BCSC 1034 – This case involved trade defamation and the scope of the defence of absolute privilege as it applies to defamatory content in a pre-litigation demand letter
- Successfully defending the British Columbia Veterinary Medical Association and professional members and staff in several Supreme Court actions brought by 16 plaintiffs. The litigation included defamation claims against the BCVMA and its representatives, including claims in which the plaintiffs alleged that the BCVMA defamed them by publishing on their website information concerning pending discipline complaints. The Plaintiffs discontinued actions before trial and we obtained orders for increased costs and orders barring the plaintiffs from bringing similar claims in the future: Bajwa v. British Columbia Veterinary Medical Association et al., 2008 BCSC 905
- Successfully defending with David Gooderham, a local school board and four trustees in a claim by a former school superintendent arising out of extensive media coverage in the local media. The claim was dismissed in its entirety after a 105 day trial and with costs awarded in favour of our clients for approximately $700,000: Lane v. Board of School Trustees of School District 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith), 2006 BCSC 129
- Successfully defending with David McKnight, a regional health board in an action commenced by a restaurant after the local newspaper published an article entitled,`Vomit serves up virus at buffet’. The case was dismissed against our clients as it was found that the statements made by our clients did not identify the restaurant and alternatively were protected by the defences of fair comment and justification: P.G. Restaurant Ltd. v. Northern Interior Regional Health Board et al. 2004 BCSC 294, 2005 BCCA 210
- Representing a commercial landlord in an arbitration on the issue of fair market rent
- Reviewing publications to assess the merits and likelihood of action, and recommending strategies to minimize the risks of being sued in defamation
Professional + Community Affiliations
- Ad IDEM/Canadian Media Lawyers Association, Member
- Canadian Women in Communications, Member
- Admitted to the Yukon Bar
- 2000 Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
- 1999 LL.B. Queen’s University
- 1996 B.A. (Honours) Simon Fraser University
Publications + Presentations
- See her defamation blog entries at BC Defamation Law Blog
- 2014 to 2017, Various presentations on defamation issues for her insurance clients
- August 18, 2017, “Best ways for non-profits to navigate B.C.’s new Societies Act“, Business in Vancouver, Author
- August, 2017, “Privacy vs. free speech on the internet“, BarTalk Magazine, Author
- July, 2017, “What an insured needs to know when defending a defamation action“, Claims Canada, Author
- February, 2011, “Defamation 2.0” Claims Canada, Author
- 2007, “Risk Management and Defamation for Insurers”
On A Personal Note
Karen, her husband and two adventurous children live on the North Shore. She is enthusiastic about travelling, skiing, running, gardening and wine.
Assistant: Marina Sunjic
Direct Line: 604.643.2158
* Professional Law Corporation