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Deceased lawyer vindicated in long-running estate dispute

|Written By Tim Naumetz

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed an application for leave to appeal by a Calgary woman in a dispute that goes back nearly two decades against a respected Calgary lawyer, his estate, and the prestigious law firm Bennett Jones LLP.

The top court dismissed the application with costs last week, which ends the court action by Cathyrene Bröeker against the estate of Sheldon Chumir, a member of the Alberta legislature from 1986 until he died from a sudden illness in 1992, and Bennett Jones.

The strange case began after Bröeker took action against Bennett Jones and Chumir’s estate following a dispute between the pair. At one point, after Bröeker had been repeatedly visiting Chumir at his office, he obtained a restraining order against her.

That restraining order sparked a defamation suit Bröeker launched against Chumir before his death and was also related to her claim as an unpaid claimant for part of Chumir’s estate.

Bennett Jones was named in the legal action as the law firm where the executors of Chumir’s estate practised. Gerry Scott, a partner at Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP in Calgary who represented Bennett Jones in the court action, declined to comment on the case or the top court’s dismissal of the application for leave to appeal.

Bröeker, who has represented herself during the court proceedings, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Chumir, a Rhodes scholar who won the gold medal for highest marks in his class when he graduated from the University of Alberta Faculty of Law in 1963, was first elected to the Alberta assembly as a Liberal in 1986.

He was re-elected in 1989 but died just three years later.

A founder of the Alberta Civil Liberties Association, Chumir was an advocate for human rights. In recognition of his work, the Law Society of Alberta awarded him a posthumous distinguished service award.

A bequest from Chumir continues to sustain the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics In Leadership in Calgary.

Its goals are to encourage reform of Alberta’s human rights laws and engage the public on issues related to diversity and civil rights, according to the foundation’s web site.

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