A notice of civil claim has been filed against Qualicum Beach Coun. Teunis Westbroek on behalf of Kenneth (Ken) Schley, John Briuolo and Kelland Foods Holdings Ltd.
The claim, dated April 19, was filed in B.C. Supreme Court by the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Bryan G. Baynham of Harper Grey LLP in Vancouver. It seeks relief for damages from slander. Westbroek has 21 days to respond after service of the claim.
On Tuesday, he told the PQB News that “legal defence counsel has been engaged”.
The claim states Schley and Briuolo control Kelland Foods Holdings Ltd., a development company that previously owned the Qualicum Foods Grocery store that was destroyed by fire in 2002.
The notice said the company recently actively pursued two development proposals involving land owned by the town, both of which were rejected or “left in limbo” by council.
The notice said one of the rejected proposals was for the ‘Bus Garage’ property.
“During the in-camera meeting of council and/or the subsequent open meeting of council approving the competing proposal, the defendant (Westbroek) argued the corporate plaintiff’s (Kelland Foods Holdings Ltd.) proposal should not be accepted because the personal plaintiffs (Schley and Briuolo) had ‘burned down their store’ years earlier and as such the municipality should not enter into an agreement with the company and its principles who had committed arson,” the document stated.
It also referenced an informal meeting at a town restaurant between Westbroek, Coun. Scott Harrison and Mayor Brian Wiese, where a discussion about the council vote took place.
“The defendant spoke and published the following defamatory words attacking the integrity and character of the personal plaintiffs: “don’t forget ‘these guys’ burnt down their store,” stated the notice, which also claimed the words could be overheard by others.
The notice then also claimed other times Westbroek made similar statements in the presence of Wiese and senior town staff members.
“In their natural and ordinary meaning the words complained of meant and were understood to mean that the personal plaintiffs intentionally set the fire that caused the Quality Foods grocery store to be destroyed and as such, committed the criminal offence of arson,” the notice read, continuing: “by reasons of the words complained of, the personal plaintiffs have been caused serious injury to their personal and professonal reputations and have suffered considerable embarrassment and distress.” It claimed the company had suffered similar injury to its goodwill and a resultant loss of income/profit.
— NEWS Staff