If there were a gold medal for stupid ideas, Olympic champion showjumper Eric Lamaze might now be standing atop the podium.
According to legal filings submitted in Canadian civil court, in July, Lamaze sought to delay litigation over a disputed horse sale by claiming that he was suffering from metastatic brain cancer. But the plaintiffs’ attorneys didn’t believe him, alleging that he had made similar misrepresentations four years ago. When the court examined Lamaze’s supposed medical documents, they were quickly revealed to be phony.
“I was blindsided and stunned and shocked when the other side had evidence that they were forgeries,” Lamaze’s own attorney, Timothy Danson, told The Daily Beast. “I have been a trial and appellate lawyer in Canada for 43 years, and this is the first time that any client has done this to me.”
In July’s filing, Danson told the court that Lamaze had “been battling brain cancer for a number of years, which has now spread to his throat.” As a result, he said, and after “taking into account [Lamaze’s] cognitive impairment, further time will be required to prepare for trial.” Another one of Lamaze’s attorneys submitted an affidavit attesting to the situation, according to a memo prepared by Justice Marvin Kurz last month. The affidavit featured three photographs that “purport[ed] to graphically show Mr. Lamaze’s disfigured face after surgery.”
When the plaintiff’s lawyers asked to review the images’ metadata, Danson allegedly “objected to the request as being unseemly.” Instead, the justice added, he requested that the pictures be struck from the record; the court declined. “Danson later stated that he was unable to provide an electronic copy of the photos as he had received them by Instagram,” the justice wrote.
Things continued to proceed strangely. Also in July, Lamaze’s lawyers sent a supposed copy of his medical records from the spring, which was written in Dutch by a doctor named Oulad Taib.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Jerome Morse was immediately skeptical. “My client’s daughter's husband is from the Netherlands,” Morse told The Daily Beast. “He says, ‘This is almost incomprehensible.’”
Adding to Morse’s doubts; the doctor’s name was listed differently on his website—as Nordenyn Oulad Ben Taib—and his biography noted that he speaks French, English, and Arabic. Notably, it said nothing about Dutch.
“There was also concern that the address on the report was incorrect,” the justice’s memo said.
The plaintiffs hired a private detective who asked the doctor about the discrepancy. “Dr. Ben Taib confirmed to the investigator that the signature on his purported report is not his and that he does not speak the Dutch language,” the justice recalled. The investigator also found that another document from a separate doctor was apparently fabricated too.
News of the allegations was previously reported by Horse Sport.
Lamaze did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment, but in interviews with two other outlets, he offered conflicting statements. In a brief interview with Horse & Hound, he insisted that was “he was unaware of letters and documents submitted to the court and [was] taking legal advice on how this came about,” adding that he had his “suspicions.”
Separately, Lamaze seemed to concede some amount of dishonesty to the Toronto Star. The false documents were “a little mistake,” he told the outlet, though he maintained that the cancer diagnosis was real. “Was I deceitful here and there to protect some doctors and protect this and that? Of course I was.”
According to Morse, Lamaze exhibited similar sketchy behavior in 2019, when he claimed to be on “his deathbed for brain cancer” in an effort to sidestep a deposition. Soon after, the court recounted, he was “found to have been successfully involved in three separate equestrian events in Florida.”
Danson is now asking to be removed as Lamaze’s counsel. Meanwhile, the Olympic champ is required to pay the plaintiffs roughly $30,000 in costs; if he fails to do so, the plaintiffs’ claims will automatically be considered valid.
Morse doesn’t expect Lamaze to fork over the cash. “You’ll knock me over the feather if he pays the money and shows up to defend the case,” he said. “But, he has that right.”