Saturday, February 20, 2016
Pension cheques for dead professor must be repaid, court rules
Posted by Lynne Butler
Ms. Threlfall was also the only beneficiary of Mr. Roseme's estate, and the liquidator (executor) appointed under his will, so she was obviously someone that he knew well and trusted.
Around that time, Mr. Roseme began receiving a retirement pension from Carleton University in the amount exceeding $7,000 per month. Ms. Threlfall didn't bother notifying them that Mr. Roseme was missing, and continued receiving the pension. The University found out about Mr. Roseme being missing in 2009 when they read a story about him in the paper. They told Ms. Threlfall that they were going to discontinue the pension but she fought it in court. She won on the point that according to the Quebec Civil Code (Mr. Roseme was a resident of Quebec), a person could not be declared dead for 7 years unless there was proof of death. So, the pension kept coming.
Finally, 55 days before the 7 years would have expired, Mr. Roseme's remains were found on a neighbour's property. His death was established to have occurred in 2007. Ms. Threlfall didn't notify the university, but they found out anyway.
The university demanded the repayment of the pension benefits, now amounting to about $500,000, on the basis that they had only kept paying them on the assumption that Mr. Roseme was still alive. Again, Ms. Threlfall fought them in court, on the basis that she should not have to repay anything that was paid before April 2014 when the body was found. Obviously her argument had nothing to do with what was due to Mr. Roseme, but only about what she was going to be able to keep.
This time the court didn't agree with her. The court said the amount had to be repaid because it was proved that Mr. Roseme died before the 7 years was up.
As the facts came out, it was revealed that Ms. Threlfall had used $106,000 of the money for her own use. This was an important point under Quebec law, because as soon as Mr. Roseme's death was established, her status as tutor ended, and her status as liquidator and beneficiary began. Section 801 of the Quebec Civil Code says that if a beneficiary mingles the estate money with their personal money, he or she is liable for the debts of the estate.
Ms. Roseme, despite her best attempts to ride the gravy train, now has to repay Carleton University the sum of $497,332.60 plus interest.
To read the case in its entirety, click here.