A former Ottawa Hospital director accused of fraud and embezzlement in a purported construction contract kickback scheme has countersued with a $4.5 million claim for defamation and negligence.
Brock Marshall, one of two former hospital employees named in a statement of claim filed by the hospital in 2016, asserts in a statement of defence filed on July 24 that he was a “team player” and a “loyal and honest” employee who never accepted inappropriate gifts or kickbacks.
The hospital has accused Marshall and Frank Medwenitsch of defrauding the institution in exchange for luxury vacations, family favours and deep personal discounts in a scheme involving five construction businesses working on hospital construction projects.
Marshall worked 28 years for the institution, starting at the former Civic Hospital, before he retired in 2015. At the end of his career, he was the hospital’s director of engineering and operations for its three campuses.
The hospital accused Marshall and Medwenitsch of sharing with potential vendors information about competitors’ bids, advanced and draft copies of procurement documents, and internal hospital communications.
The hospital asserts in its statement of claim that Marshall and Medwenitsch received unapproved “hospitality gifts, trips and payments.” The allegations against Marshall assert that he and his family received cars and home renovations from potential vendors “either below cost or at no cost,” and that he also received free tickets to sporting events.
However, in his statement of defence, Marshall says he paid a “fair” price for the cars and the renovations. He also says that while he accepted ticket to “a couple of games over the years,” he believed he declared the tickets as gifts — and that other Ottawa Hospital employees, including senior executives, also accepted free tickets.
He denied giving vendors “inside information,” claiming that the hospital’s project managers were “involved in every step of the tender process.”
“Brock never accepted gifts or kickbacks and never approved a payment that was improper,” he said in his statement. “Whenever there was any doubt of whether an invoice ought to be paid Brock conducted due diligence and consulted with others to determine whether payment was appropriate.”
“On many occasions Brock denied payment to these contractors who are named as defendants in this claim, despite the urging of others in the hospital. On many occasions, despite the urging of his superiors, Brock made sure that the bidding process was fair and transparent. Despite the fact that the senior executives in the hospital only paid lip service to the gift policy, Brock complied with the gift policy.”
“This claim slanders the reputation of (Marshall) a dedicated, loyal and honest former employee of the plaintiff,” his statement reads. “It is a series of generalizations that may apply to others but certainly does not apply to Brock.”
Medwenitsch filed his statement of defence about a year ago, where he denied any claims of wrongdoing. None of the claims by either Marshall, Medwenitch or The Ottawa Hospital have been tried in court.
Marshall seeks in his counterclaim $4.5 million from the hospital, broken down as $2 million for negligence, $2 million for defamation, and $500,000 in punitive damages.
The counterclaim says Marshall was the victim of “an incomplete, inadequate and negligent” investigation and that he was the “scapegoat for the failure of the hospital’s executives to require compliance with the written hospital priorities and to provide appropriate oversight and management.”
“Brock has been unable to obtain suitable employment or contracts and will likely continue to be unable to obtain suitable employment or contracts, hereafter,” Marshall asserts in his counterclaim.
The hospital responded on July 28 with a court filed “reply and defence”,denying it defamed or slandered one of its former directors whom it accused of taking part in an illegal kickback scheme that allegedly involved fraud, embezzlement and misappropriation of hospital funds.