Juror diagnosed with PTSD launches $100K lawsuit against 2 governments

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Juror diagnosed with PTSD launches $100K lawsuit against 2 governments

A Toronto man diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving on a jury for a murder trial is suing the Ontario and federal governments for $100,000 in compensation.

Mark Farrant, 45, has suffered from "ongoing mental health problems including but not limited to PTSD, anxiety, depression, nervous shock and other issues," a statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court said.

It alleges the attorneys general of Ontario and Canada breached their "duty of care" to protect Farrant as a juror.

As CBC Toronto reported in 2016, Farrant has been outspoken about the psychological impact of serving on some juries and led a recent charge for legislative change.

"We can confirm that that the ministry was served with a statement of claim on Feb. 20 and that counsel is currently reviewing the claim," said Emilie Smith, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General in an email. 

"It would be inappropriate to comment further as the matter is subject to litigation," she said.

Following the CBC reports, the Ontario government announced that free counselling would be made available to jurors.

"The ministry recognizes and appreciates the vital role jurors play in our justice system," said Smith. 

"That is why we launched a Juror Support Program in January 2017. This program offers free counselling to all jurors who request it."

But the lawsuit alleges the change came too late for Farrant.

Prior to the new legislation, counselling could only be provided if a judge ordered it.

'Disturbing murder trial'

Farrant was the jury foreman during the 2014 trial of Farshad Badakhshan, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend Carina Petrache.

Petrache was stabbed multiple times before her body was burned in a fire.

The lawsuit alleges that as a juror Farrant was subjected to "extremely disturbing and distressing evidence which was heard at the trial."

In 2016, Farrant told CBC Toronto that the "trauma" caused by viewing the gruesome evidence intensified over time.

"There were certainly images that I saw that I had a hard time getting rid of," he said in an interview at the time.

As a result, the lawsuit says Farrant continues to suffer from "stress, fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, significant weight loss, income loss and loss of competitive advantage."

Farrant is seeking to recover the cost of past and future health-care expenses, including psychological treatment, therapy and personal support care.

"At no time during or following the trial was [Farrant] offered any psychological, or other, treatment or therapy," the statement of claim says.