Whitby man wins suit against Minden Hills 0
Jeff Hancock, the Whitby man with a seasonal property in Irondale who launched a small claims lawsuit against the Township of Minden Hills in the winter, has won his case, with a judge finding the township liable for defamation.
In October of 2011. the township, through a registered letter, removed Hancock, his wife Donna and Tanya Madill from the Irondale Community Centre's advisory committee, banned them from the centre and “more or less accused Jeff Hancock of theft,” his lawyer Michael Semple told the Times earlier this year.
Their dismissal involved alleged missing money from a fundraising baseball tournament, as well as the disposal of an old photocopier.
“A copy of the letter was sent to the local OPP detachment,” Semple wrote in an email to the Times. “After retaining legal counsel, the township retracted the property ban but has refused to retract or apologize for the other allegations.”
Hancock sued for the maximum $25,000 and after hearing the case last week, deputy judge Teresa Kowalishin awarded him $7,500 in damages, as well as $1,335 in expenses.
“There was no investigation or steps of any kind taken by the defendant to deal with what I find, was unwarranted suspicion of wrongdoing by the plaintiff,” Kowalishin's ruling reads. “Accordingly, I find no truth to the defendant's reference to missing money and articles. The defence of justification fails.”
The judge went on to state that the letter from Minden Hills had indeed damaged Hancock's reputation.
“As a result of the defendant's defamatory letter, his desire to remain actively engaged in the community has been effectively chilled. I found his sorrow of his loss of reputation in the community both credible and foreseeable, as also attested to by his wife and Tanya Madill.”
Hancock told the Times all he ever wanted from Minden Hills was an apology.
“It was never about money for me, it was about defending my reputation,” he wrote in an email. “ All I had asked them for, several times was an apology, and they refused to even consider giving one.”
Minden Hills Reeve Barb Reid told the paper she could not comment on the issue for now.
“The township must first review the judgment with its lawyers before I can
make any statement,” Reid wrote in an email.
The Times put in a request to the township for the legal expenses it incurred in its defence.
"The Hancock matter was referred to our insurance company and as such, the entire matter was dealt with through the insurance company, including the hiring of defence counsel and paying the costs attributed to defending this case," chief administrative officer Nancy Wright-Laking wrote in an email. "Thus, I am unable to provide the costs to you as requested at this time."