lawsuit

CAO files defamation lawsuit against mayoral candidate

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s chief administrative officer (CAO) has filed a defamation lawsuit against one of the two men running for mayor.

According to a statement of claim filed with the Superior Court of Justice in Windsor Aug. 23, CAO John Miceli is seeking $90,000 in the lawsuit from Glenn Swinton. Miceli is seeking damages for defamation in the amount of $70,000, aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages in the amount of $20,000 and “an interlocutory and final injunction prohibiting the Defendant, directly or indirectly, from publishing and/or broadcasting, or encouraging others to publish or broadcast any statements, in any matter which in their plain or ordinary meaning or by innuendo suggested the Plaintiff is mendacious, corrupt, incompetent, or responsible for criminal acts.”

The lawsuit centres around posts made on Facebook. It is alleged that the words and images posted “in their plain and ordinary meaning and by way of innuendo” were meant to understand that Miceli is a corrupt public servant, lacks integrity, is a dishonest person, has disregard for the law and is in contempt of legal proceedings.

“The Plaintiff states that because of his defamatory statements and images, his personal reputation has been damaged,” the statement of claim alleges. “The Plantiff has suffered and will continue to suffer damages to his reputation for which the Defendant is liable.”

“Mr. Swinton has made a number of defamatory comments, in my opinion, relating to me,” Miceli told the River Town Times last week. “It’s a personal matter to me. It’s about my reputation as a public servant.”

Some of the comments are based on the policing matter, with further claims being that Miceli’s employment has allegedly been threatened by Swinton due to Miceli’s request for an apology.

“The Plaintiff states that the Defendant admits to using his malicious crusade against Mr. Miceli as part of his political platform in his candidacy for the Mayor of the Town of Amherstburg,” the statement of claim alleges. “Mr. Miceli has suffered the indignity and embarrassment of being the subject of defamatory statements which in turn spawned defamatory comments by others. All such statements were encouraged by the Defendant and were broadcasted and published by him on his Facebook page for which Mr. Miceli seeks damages.”

Miceli said Swinton was given the opportunity to apologize.

“Mr. Swinton elected not to. That’s his prerogative,” said Miceli.

Miceli said Swinton is passionate about the policing issue but added “I’m passionate about my integrity, my reputation and what the truth is.”

The CAO said his role is that of being in an advisory capacity and that he has no votes on issues.

“If you check the voting record, I don’t think you are going to see that John Miceli voted,” he said.

Miceli reiterated that he has built a 27-year career in the public sector adding that he has never actually met Swinton.

“I have never spoken to Mr. Swinton. I don’t know the man, yet he made all these assertions about me that need to be accounted for,” Miceli stated.

Miceli added that he would “for sure” file a lawsuit against Swinton if it weren’t an election year.

“Mr. Swinton has his position and I have mine,” Miceli added. “At the end of the day, a judge is going to decide. A community is going to decide Oct. 22.”

Swinton told the River Town Times that he has received a “Notice under the Libel and Defamation Act” from Mousseau DeLuca McPherson Prince LLP Barristers and Solicitors, on behalf of Miceli, claiming that he has made libel claims against him and was encouraging defamation throughout Facebook.

“This noticed threatened that if I did not remove these posts – some of which were not even mine – and publicly post the prescript apology that was included, an action would be registered with the courts,” said Swinton in an e-mail.

Swinton stated that “because anything I had posted was already public knowledge and I have no control over other people’s posts, I naturally responded notifying them that because the claims were so far fetched, it appeared to me that Mr. Miceli was attempting to form a basis to argue wrongful dismissal and that no apology would be coming from me.”

Swinton added that about 10 days later, “Miceli had filed his claims with the courts accusing me of defaming him with false accusations, and attacking his ‘exemplary reputation within the community’ as a public servant. Mr. Miceli, with his self assessed reputation, has some how deemed his damages to be in the neighbourhood of $90,000.”

Swinton added that part of his platform in running for mayor is that hires made by the CAO would be reviewed if he is elected as mayor.

“I have made it no secret that Mr. Miceli, his department and any new hires that occurred over the last 3.5 years will be examined thoroughly if I am elected on Oct. 22, 2018,” Swinton stated.

As of last Friday afternoon, an official statement of defense was not available. None of the allegations in this case have been proven in court as of yet.

 

Settlement reached between town and estate of Graham Hobbs

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The lawsuit that was filed by a retired grandfather that continued after his death has now concluded.

A settlement has been reached between the family of Graham Hobbs and the Town of Amherstburg. Hobbs had been banned from town hall and other municipal property following an alleged incident at the Amherstburg Municipal Building Nov. 20, 2015. He subsequently filed the $100,000 lawsuit against the municipality.

Hobbs died Jan. 2, 2017 but the lawsuit had continued until recently when the town received $25,000, which resolved the matter.

“Being a legal matter, I do have to be careful of what I say and how I say it,” acknowledged Mayor Aldo DiCarlo after Monday night’s council meeting. “Obviously we felt the town’s position was appropriate.”

According to the mayor, efforts were made to try and resolve the matter.

“Unfortunately, we could not do that outside the legal forum,” he said.

DiCarlo said the $25,000 will be put towards costs to defend its position.

While the matter is over, DiCarlo said the town takes no pleasure in the outcome.

“We don’t feel great about it but we did have a fiduciary duty to get taxpayers’ money back and we did that,” he said. “It was an unfortunate incident and it’s just not the kind of thing that you want to deal with when you’ve got all these other issues you have to deal with.”

In a report from treasurer Justin Rousseau that came before council on 2017 year-end financial ratios and indicators, it contained a portion which read: “Subsequent to 2017 year-end the claim Hobbs CV-16-23500 was settled with cost being awarded back to the Town of Amherstburg. In early 2018, $25,000 was received by the Town to cover the Town’s legal expenses for this matter. This is no longer a pending claim at the time of this report.”

 

Mayor relieved after $9 million flooding lawsuit dropped

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town of Amherstburg is no longer facing a $9 million lawsuit in relation to the flooding event which occurred in August 2011.

The suit, filed two years after the flooding occurred, was dropped with the process of dropping the lawsuit beginning with an e-mail sent to the town in March. A report on Monday night’s council agenda indicated that subsequent e-mails have been received since updating the town on the status of the dismissal with the town now signing off on the full and final release.

“The simple answer is relief,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, when asked of his reaction to the lawsuit being dropped. “This is a very large, heavy stone hanging around the town’s neck for many years now.”

Town hall signWEB

According to a report from clerk Paula Parker, the claim alleged $5 million in general non-pecuniary and aggravated damages for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and nuisance, $3 million in damages for diminution and loss of property and $1 million in punitive damages making the total cost facing the town and the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) $9 million.

“The Town’s insurer only covers general non-pecuniary and aggravated damages for nuisance, breach of fiduciary duty and nuisance. Therefore, if the litigation had been successful, the Town would have only been covered for $5 million,” Parker’s report stated. “Payout for uncovered damages would have been based on percentage of negligence found between the parties to the claim and was unpredictable. The town could have been responsible for an upset limit of $4 million.”

DiCarlo said the $4 million would have had to have been built into future budgets if it had been a judgment that high but noted it could have ranged from zero to $4 million. Due to that unpredictability, there wasn’t anything included in this year’s budget for it.

“That would have been (a) huge (impact) to the tax base,” he noted, of the $4 million potential payout. “It would have been something we would have had to address.”

During the course of the meeting, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale wondered if the town could recoup any costs and was told by Parker the town had succeeded in doing that.

“This essentially didn’t cost us anything,” DiCarlo said after the meeting.

DiCarlo added this case was the biggest one the town had faced recently but noted there were “two or three” other cases the town had faced that were either dropped or settled in recent months.

 

Banned resident suing town for $100,000

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

Graham Hobbs, the resident who was banned from all town facilities last November, has filed a lawsuit against the municipality.

Hobbs is seeking $100,000 in damages with AM800 news reporting that the Statement of Claim says the town’s actions were “oppressive, arbitrary and unconstitutional.”

Hobbs was banned from all town-owned facilities stemming from an alleged incident Nov. 20. His lawyer, Anthony Leardi, has pressed the town for more information such as the exact nature of the allegation.

When reached for comment Tuesday morning, Leardi provided the file number for the statement of claim but opted not to make any further statements.

“I’d prefer not to,” said Leardi, adding they don’t want to be accused to litigating through the media.

CAO John Miceli told the RTT Tuesday morning that the town received word of the lawsuit last Friday. Town council was given an update on the matter at an in-camera meeting Monday night.

There has been nothing proven in court as it relates to the case.

“We’re going to defend ourselves,” he said.