Condo Law Digest – October 2014

Owl Family Portrait by travelwayoflife (Flickr: Owl Family Portrait) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Van Sickle v. Conlon, 2014 ONSC 5437
Decision Date: September 18, 2014
http://canlii.ca/t/g914j

In 2011 the plaintiff and the defendant were Directors on the Board of a Housing Co-op. After a meeting to discuss a possible eviction, Ms Van Sickle took with her a copy of the confidential report discussing the matter. Mr. Conlon sent an email message to the Board members with the subject line, “Verna’s theft of the document from the meeting on Thursday night.” Ms. Van Sickle sued Mr. Conlon for defamation; she won and was awarded $7500. In this appeal, Mr. Conlon challenges the Deputy Judge’s treatment of his defense in the original trial. Mr. Conlon’s defenses were 1) that it was in fact true that Ms Van Sickle had stolen documents; and 2) qualified privilege (that is, he had the right to criticize her to protect the dignity of the Co-op). Deputy Judge Richardson rejected both defenses. Mr. Conlon had a “total and reckless disregard for the truth” and his conduct was found to be “malicious” (hence the defense of qualified privilege was rejected.) Justice Perell, the appeal judge, found no reviewable error and dismissed the appeal. Costs were fixed at $12, 000.

Comment: Although this case involved the Directors of a Housing Co-op (rather than a condominium), all Board Members should take note.

See also: Preventing Conflict on a Condo Board, Strategies for Getting Your Board Un-stuck, and Think Before You Type (about the dangers of e-mail communication).

Posted in Condo Disputes.

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