Social Justice Centre removed as plaintiff in defamation lawsuit against Hillel BC and former contractor

Since filing a lawsuit against Hillel BC and a former contractor for defamation in February, the UBC Social Justice Centre (SJC) has removed itself as a case plaintiff.

In February, the SJC and SJC coordinator Matthew Cheesman filed a lawsuit against Hillel BC Society and the former contractor, Adam Dobrer, alleging Dobrer defamed the SJC by distributing stickers across UBC’s Vancouver campus with the SJC logo which said “I [heart] Hamas” in November 2023.

The suit alleges the stickers lowered the organization “in the esteem of the public” and led to the undermining of “the credibility of the SJC in the advocacy activities.”

The SJC filed a notice of discontinuance on May 28, officially removing the group as a plaintiff for the lawsuit.

This came after AMS Council passed a motion during an April 15 meeting to investigate the SJC’s alleged violations of the society’s code because the SJC contacted lawyers without AMS authorization. On April 24, AMS Council rescinded its investigation into the SJC as the lawsuit would be amended to remove the SJC as a plaintiff.

In a statement to The Ubyssey, Cheesman’s legal representation Karen Segal wrote the removal of the SJC as a plaintiff was a “technical decision, but it does not change the substance of the claim or the merits of the case.”

“Mr. Cheesman, who was impacted by the defamatory stickers, will make his case in court,” wrote Segal.

In an April 11 response to civil claim, Dobrer wrote he distributed the stickers on UBC's Vancouver campus “without being directed by anyone to do so.”

Dobrer also wrote “a reasonably informed reader” would read the stickers as “objectively satirical.” He also said the stickers' content is “protected speech in Canada as fair comment.”

On June 14, Dobrer amended his response to the lawsuit and wrote that he “seeks an order dismissing all claims … with costs payable to [him] as indemnity costs.”

Adam Dobrer and his legal representation declined The Ubyssey’s request for comment.

No case hearing has been scheduled as of press time.

Adam Dobrer has previously contributed to The Ubyssey’s opinion section. He was not involved in the publishing of this article.

The UBC Social Justice Centre and Hillel BC’s legal representation did not respond to The Ubyssey’s request for comment by press time.