Judge calls suit against individual defendants ‘frivolous’ and ‘designed solely to put tactical pressure on Barrie’
The City of Barrie and its individual agents have been awarded over $1 million in total costs from Correct Group Inc. (CGI) by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in a decade-long lawsuit related to the land from Allandale station.
This comes after the city won a summary judgment from the Superior Court of Justice in January, which dismissed all of CGI’s claims against the city and its agents, from late 2011, including breach of contract and the negotiation in bad faith, concerning a failed development in 2009 and purchase deal on this property.
“It is undisputed that Barrie and the individual defendants were fully successful on the motion for summary judgment and therefore in the action,” said Ontario Regional Senior Judge Leonard Ricchetti in his ruling dated 19 April 2022. “They are entitled to the costs of the action and the motion for summary judgment.”
“We are pleased that the court has once again ruled in favor of the city in the award of costs in the Allandale lands lawsuit,” Acting Mayor Barry Ward said. “I think the comments in the court’s decision speak for themselves.”
Court documents indicate that CGI’s argument was that the amounts claimed by both the city and the individual defendants were excessive and unreasonable. CGI had sought summary judgment costs of $1,345,345.
CGI President Alan Furbacher said it’s not over.
“Based in part on discussions with two different aboriginal leaders who encouraged an appeal, our attorneys filed and served a notice of appeal (of summary judgment) some time ago,” he said. “Fees are only due if the appeal fails. So everything is on hold, from what I understand from the lawyers, until the appeal is heard.
“We are surprised that Barrie did not publicly disclose the decision under appeal sooner,” Furbacher added.
Ward said BarrieToday earlier this month, the January 25 decision was appealed by CGI and published in an April 21 article.
In his decision, Ricchetti explained his decision on costs.
“In my view, the claim against the individual defendants was a frivolous claim designed solely to exert tactical pressure on Barrie by making claims against councilors and staff involved in the proposed sale of the lands,” he wrote. “It is clear that the claims made against the individual defendants were unfounded.
“There were allegations of fraud, conspiracy and bad faith against each of the individual defendants without any evidence to support these allegations,” Ricchetti wrote. “I am satisfied…that CGI’s claim against the individual defendants constitutes egregious conduct deserving of sanction, through the award of a punitive scale of costs, is justified.”
Ricchetti also gave a broader view of his reasons.
“Given that this total amount is approximately the same amount that CGI sought for the sole summary judgment motion on a substantial indemnity (exemption) basis, this is an amount that CGI should reasonably have expected. to pay for the entire action, including the motion for summary judgment,” he wrote.
“The costs of the action payable by CGI to Barrie and the individual defendants in the amount of $1,066,412.62, all inclusive, immediately,” the judge wrote in conclusion.
Ricchetti also described the documents filed by CGI and the city/individuals.
“To say that the documents filed by the parties were voluminous is an understatement; there are approximately 23,000 pages of documents, numerous affidavits, numerous transcripts of cross-examinations on the multitude of affidavits filed, expert reports, historical environmental and archaeological reports, extremely lengthy memoirs and oral submissions detailed,” he wrote.
CGI entered into an agreement with the city in 2009 to develop the Allandale Station site, along with the YMCA of Simcoe-Muskoka. The “Y” withdrew in 2010, citing high financial risks. At this time, there were also environmental concerns and the discovery of Aboriginal remains on the property requiring investigation.
In late 2011, CGI’s first lawsuit against the city became public with a multi-million dollar lawsuit alleging breach of contract and bad faith bargaining. Others followed, but two remained in court involving both the city as well as current or former city employees, Barrie councilors and contractors.
According to court documents, CGI claimed to have suffered damages due to negligent misrepresentations. He claimed city officials failed to disclose the presence of contamination on the land and the possible presence of an Indigenous burial site, hampering its development. CGI also claimed in the lawsuits that it invested a lot of money and resources in the project due to information received from the city. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
“CGI and the aforementioned Aboriginal leaders, Barrie archaeologist and others believe that Barrie was wrong to dig up a known or suspected Aboriginal graveyard. — whatever the reason and whatever amount of taxpayer money Barrie received,” Furbacher said. “This appeal involves both the City of Barrie and certain other defendants.”
Ricchetti, in his January 25 decision from the Superior Court of Justice, gave his reasons why CGI’s claims were dismissed in their entirety.
“There is no evidence that any of the defendants failed to act in good faith or act outside the scope of their duties or discharge their duties to Barrie for an improper or ulterior motive to deceive or to harm CGI,” Ricchetti wrote in his ruling. . “There is no evidence that any of the defendants said or did anything contrary to what they believed to be in Barrie’s best interests.
“At the highest, even if CGI’s allegations are accepted, CGI’s claims could at most be negligence, omission or recklessness. — I don’t accept anything — by not disclosing potential environmental/archaeological issues to CGI,” he wrote. “But more is needed to establish a lack of good faith. This “plus” is totally lacking in this case. »
The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General says that summary judgment provides a mechanism in cases where “there is no real issue to be tried” for all or part of a claim to be decided summarily, without a full trial.
Ricchetti awarded costs of $1,066,412.62 on April 19 to the City of Barrie and a number of individuals. The nominees are Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman; former Barrie councilors Alex Nuttall, Jennifer Robinson, Jerry Moore and Michael Prowse (now city manager); former city workers Jon Babulic, Richard Forward, Janet Foster, Edward Archer and Deborah McKinnon; city worker Ingrid Peters; City Agents Charles Magwood, Robert Stewart, Indicom Appraisal Associates and Metrolinx, and the Corporation of the City of Barrie, Defendants. CGI and the Correct Building Corporation, a company related to CGI, were the plaintiffs.