Lawsuit of the week: Lawyer sues expert witness after BC Court of Appeal found she had ‘fraudulently misrepresented her credentials and expertise’

Lawyer Jack Hittrich and his law corporation are suing Claire Reeves, who holds herself out as a sexual abuse expert, after Reeves gave testimony in a family law case that was later used in a civil proceeding overturned by the BC Court of Appeal due to her allegedly phony credentials.

Lawyer Jack Hittrich and his law corporation are suing Claire Reeves, who holds herself out as a sexual abuse expert, after Reeves gave testimony in a family law case that was later used in a civil proceeding overturned by the BC Court of Appeal due to her allegedly phony credentials.

Hittrich filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on January 15. According to the lawsuit, a woman identified as J.P. hired him “to represent her in a complex combined family and child protection proceeding.” Hittrich hired Reeves as an expert witness to provide a report and testify in the case. After a three-month trial, the judge found that the father in the case, B.G., had sexually abused three of his four children and awarded sole custody to Hittrich’s client, J.P.

Later, Hittrich represented J.P. in a civil case against the director of Child, Family and Community Services and the B.C. government, and after a 147-day trial, the court found that B.G. had abused his children while in the director’s care.

But in July 2015, the director, a social worker, and the father, B.G., appealed the decision. In January 2016, the father sought an extension of time to appeal the family law case ruling “based on the defendant having false credentials and alleging that the defendant had perpetrated fraud on the court.”

“This was the first time that the plaintiffs had heard of these allegations,” the claim states. “The defendant did not respond fully to the plaintiffs’ communications and did not provide a proper explanation for the evidence obtained by B.G. about her credentials.”

In August 2017, the BC Court of Appeal set aside the sexual abuse findings in both the family and civil proceedings.

“Central to both was the finding by the [appeals court] that the defendant fraudulently misrepresented her credentials and expertise,” the claim states. “But for the findings about the defendant’s credentials by the [appeals court] the sexual abuse findings would not likely have been set aside.”

Hittrich’s client J.P. has since appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, but it’s unknown whether the case will be heard. Meanwhile, the father at the centre of the cases has applied for “special costs” of more than $500,000 against J.P. and Hittrich himself, “based on the claim that [Hittrich] should not have tendered the defendant as an expert.”

In February 2016, the CBC reported that Reeves “holds controversial views on the Catholic Church, mind control and transgender individuals” and that her credentials were bought from a so-called diploma mill, a fake post-secondary institution that sell credentials for a fee.

Hittrich and his law corporation seek damages for civil fraud, abuse of process, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duties.

The allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and Reeves had not responded to the claim by press time.