June 15th, 2024

Injunction to pause payment, instill publication ban denied for Redcliff woman, compay who defamed town officials

By Medicine Hat News on June 6, 2024.

@MedicineHatNews

A Redcliff woman who was ordered to pay the legal costs and damages for defaming town officials is appealing the King’s Bench ruling, but has been denied a temporary injunction on financial award and her request that a publication ban be placed on the original ruling.

A judgment in the Alberta Court of Appeal published Monday, Justice Joshua Hawkes states that the overall arguments put forth by Debut Developments and Danica Prpick do not meet the threshold to pause payments or the publication ban.

Debut applied to the Court of Appeal on Feb. 23, 2024, and the application for an injunction was heard May 23.

“The respondents (Redcliff and several officials) have been embroiled in litigation against Debut since 2011, and in relation to the defamation since 2016,” he wrote in a judgment published on June 3. “Barring a successful appeal, they should be entitled to the fruits of their judgement in the defamation action.”

Prpick was self-represented at the hearing and argued payments would hurt her ability to contest the appeal and that a publication ban on the original judgment should be instituted.

Hawkes ruled amounts for legal costs had yet to be determined and except for exceptional cases, publication bans should be asked for before a judgement is appealed, not after.

In January, King’s Bench Justice N.E. Devlin ruled following trial in 2023 that Prpick had defamed former Redcliff mayor Rob Hazelaar, former town manager Robert Giesbrecht and former official, now town manager Shanon Simon.

Each was awarded $40,000 in damages as well as legal costs after Devlin determined that accusations were without merit and malicious.

Prpick launched a suit alleging malfeasance at the town caused her company, Debut, financial harm when it sold townhouse units at a loss.

The officials countersued for defamation, stating that letters sent to the media alleging “organized crime,” a second set of accounting ledgers and millions in misappropriated funds damaged their professional and personal reputations.

They forwarded requests to begin the financial aspects of the penalty in March though legal costs in the case were still to be determined.

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