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Mom Makes Website, Gets Sued for $2 Million 842

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Canadian stay-at-home mom of 3 recently created a website to report on environmental problems around her neighborhood. The general public and governmental workers lauded her for her efforts. The environmental Ministry spokesman was even quoted as saying 'Obviously we can't have staff everywhere all the time, so we depend on the public out there as surrogate eyes and ears for the ministry'. However, not everyone was quite as happy, as she soon found out, when one company decided to sue her for libel to the tune of $2 million."
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Mom Makes Website, Gets Sued for $2 Million

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  • I thought... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supersocialist (884820) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:06PM (#14021792) Journal
    "The truth" was a solid defense against libel claims?

    But she has to prove it, and they've got the bigger pocket books...
    • Re:I thought... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ctr2sprt (574731) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:23PM (#14021875)
      I RTFA hoping to get more details, specifically what parts Activa is claiming are libelous. The article just lists examples of complaints Lanteigne has, not which ones are at issue (unless I misread). I kind of think there must be something to this, because David-vs-Goliath cases always result in significant bad press for Goliath. I just can't see this working out well for them unless they can really prove Lanteigne is full of shit.

      People will bring up the RIAA suing grandmothers, and rightly so. The difference, as I see it, is that the RIAA believes - rightly or wrongly - that they're losing millions and millions of dollars to piracy. Look at it that way and it makes sense that they're willing to trade some bad press for a lessened erosion of their bottom line. Nothing in the article led me to believe that Activa was being so seriously affected by this one little site.

      I guess what I'm saying is there's just enough information to make me think something else is going on here, but not enough to know what.

    • Re:I thought... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dougmc (70836)

      "The truth" was a solid defense against libel claims?

      It is in the US. I don't know much about Canadian law, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was there too.

      But how much truth can you afford? Lawsuits are expensive, for both sides. Though if her story is 100% true (and I see little reason think it's not, though of course I only know what I've read on her site and the news) it's unlikely that this will ever even go to trial. But of course, a lawsuit doesn't have to go to trial to have the desired

  • in Canda? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ShaneThePain (929627) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:06PM (#14021794) Journal
    In the U.S. this is a no brainer, but this crap happens in canada too? I thought they were ALL enviro-hippies there.
  • heh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Renraku (518261) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:08PM (#14021804) Homepage
    Bad: Woman rights remarks about your company.

    Worse: Sue said woman for more than she can ever possibly make under normal circumstances, breaking her family apart and probably separating her three kids.

    They could have made it 'better' by being like "We're glad you brought this to our attention and we're going to fix it. Thanks for your vigilence!"
  • That's it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sr. Pato (900333) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:12PM (#14021816) Homepage
    I'm so glad I live in Canada, we don't have to deal with this bullsh.. uh, wait.. what the.. oh crap.
  • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:14PM (#14021823) Homepage Journal
    http://ca.geocities.com/infringements@rogers.com [geocities.com] returns "Sorry, this site is temporarily unavailable! The web site you are trying to access has exceeded its allocated data transfer."

    --davecb

  • Poor summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by SnprBoB86 (576143) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:15PM (#14021833) Homepage
    The summary does not state the womans name, Louisette Lanteigne, nor does it link to her website (it's geocities, so this is a google Cache) [64.233.161.104], nor does it mention the company's name, Activa Holdings Inc.
  • by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:15PM (#14021834)
    If there were just misunderstanding (wrongfully interperted information), then company would have invated this lady, described problems and how they will solve that and then all problems with bad PR would go away. Of course, if they choose this course, they have something to hide - because it is typical defence nowadays - attack.

    Of course, a little bit more details about which claims company thinks are false would be helpful for more concrete judgement.
  • by rborek (563153) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:15PM (#14021835)
    "In Lanteigne's case, she will have to pay her lawyer regardless of the outcome."

    Not quite true. Canada has a loser-pays system, so the losing party has to pay the winning party's costs, but it's usually only a portion (depending on the case - if the judge feels the actions by the plaintiff are malicious and without merit, then the losing party will receive most, if not all, of their legal fees paid by the plaintiff).

    • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:03PM (#14022104)
      This case shows the merit of the loser pays rule.

      It's the only way civil court proceedings can be made even remotely fair -- instead of the extortion/lottery they are in the US right now.

      • by amliebsch (724858) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @07:01PM (#14022466) Journal
        There are also problems with the "loser pays" rule. One is that it would discourage the opposite scenario here: knowing she would have to pay if she loses, would this women even consider suing the polluters? It discourages meritless lawsuits, but at the expense of also discouraging meritorious lawsuits, and the meritorious ones are discouraged right at the margin where they are particularly usefull. Another problem is that it strongly discourages the ability of groups like the ACLU or NRA to file "test cases" to challenge the exact meaning of unclear judicial rulings or legislations, leaving the law in a more muddled and possibly unjust state. Finally, it encourages wealthier parties to intentionally run up their legal expenses, to try to force the less wealthy party to withdraw opposition once their cost-benefit expectation climbs too high. In poker, terms, this is exactly the same as raising the stakes to make the other players fold.

        The loser-pays rule is appropriate in some circumstances, which is why judges should always have the option to allocate legal fees. But it is not a panacea.

      • by Mateorabi (108522) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @07:04PM (#14022480) Homepage
        Unless she loses because they hired a whole slew $400/hr lawyers who were better than the single $100/hr lawyer she could afford. Loser pays just discourages the small guy from filing suit, because even if there is only a 10% chance of failure the corporation can screw him by hiring the best/most expensive legal costs possible.

        Loser pays the would possibly work a bit better if you were forced to pay the other side the equivalent ofyour legal fees instead of theirs. I.e. if you loose your legal fees can only double (if your lawyer doesn't give you a "win or I'm free" gaurantee.)

        The added bonus is that both sides are encouraged to make the case more breif, with fewer lawyers involved.

  • by slappyjack (196918) <slappyjack@gmail.com> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:17PM (#14021846) Homepage Journal
    ...Libelous statements sue... uh...

    In South Korea, only old libelous... damn.

    I, for one, welcome our Libelous Housewife... shit.

    Uh, well, good for her. Fuck the man. Yeah.

    Anyone got a link to this woman's website? I'm giving odds that theres a few crafty animated gifs on there.
  • by ThatGeek (874983) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:17PM (#14021857) Homepage
    My first reaction is that the company is scum. It tries to bury the truth instead of dealing with it. But it is essential to know whether or not her claims are in fact false before questioning the validity of the suit. After all, I can't just say something bad about a company that does bad things.

    Then again, you would think the firm would go out of its way to disprove her allegations. It doesn't seem to even try. At trial, the firm would likely need to show her statements as false. If she's telling the truth, I bet the firm will crumble. Rather that having all of their dirt come out in open court, they'll use a last minute excuse like "We felt bad for her kids, so we are letting her outrageous claims go... this time."

    I can't wait to see how this turns out.
  • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:18PM (#14021859) Homepage Journal
    Quoted at an activist site, Rabble. See http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get _topic&f=5&t=001759 [rabble.ca]

    --dave (who went to university in KW) c-b

  • Eh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101&gmail,com> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:18PM (#14021860) Homepage Journal
    It's hard to tell from the article, but there's often two sides to these stories.

    Case in point: I have a neighbor. He's an old man with a bad attitude who is basically a crank. He also walks around the neighborhood look for "issues" and is a total PITA if you get on his bad side. A few years ago, my boy (who was about 3-4 years old at the time) was obssessed with hoses, drains and pipes. He LOVED to put together sprinkler systems using PVC in my back yard. Of course, I encouraged him in his hobby, even though my water bill wasn't exactly pleasant news.

    Well, the water running down the street just drove my neighbor insane. He tried to convince the neighborhood that the water was going to degrade the street. When that didn't work, he actually reported me to the Environmental Protection Agency (who sent out a very nice woman, who was very impressed with my son's sprinkler systems when I happily showed her around).

    And I wasn't the only one -- at various times, he has had run-ins with the neighbors over phantom problems. The guy lives to find issues that don't exist.

    So you'll pardon me if I don't necessarily believe this woman isn't a total wack-job without more evidence beyond this article.

    • Re:Eh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WestCanadaCitizen.ca (930764) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:38PM (#14021950) Homepage
      You're absolutely right that not everyone who cries environmental foul is right, or even legitimate. But when this woman received letters from Environment Canada (like the EPA) about her efforts, this lends a bit of credibility to her claims. Also, the fact that this development company didn't post a rebuttal that disproved her claims but rather filed a lawsuit intending to shut her up and shut her site down makes me think she was on to something.
      • Re:Eh (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Not only that, the two million dollar threat does nothing to preserve or rebuild their image. It is specifically designed to destroy this woman and to send a message to other would-be activists. They are trying to put her head on a pike here and its up to the canadians to do something about it.
  • Found the site! (Score:3, Informative)

    by slappyjack (196918) <slappyjack@gmail.com> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:25PM (#14021883) Homepage Journal
    This is supposedly the URL:
    http://ca.geocities.com/infringements@rogers.com [geocities.com]

    of course, its exceeded its transfer alloted for the day, so its down.

    Typical. It IS cached by google, though.

    Found some info here:
    http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get _topic&f=5&t=001759 [rabble.ca]

    Theres some info with contact information for the woman and the company.
  • by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:29PM (#14021902)
    Here are the rules:
    1) Money is all that matters.
    2) If you are not a millionaire, you are a second class citizen
    3) You are not allowed to buy from a small company if there is a bigger one available
    4) If something a company sells you is crap, well, too bad.
    5) If you buy something from a company, they own you
    6) Speaking against anyone or anything richer than you is illegal.
    7) It is the government of the companies, by the companies, for the companies.
    8) Anyone who doesn't go to the Commerce School deserves to be screwed over

    Let's see, we're all guilty of...well, pretty much everything.
  • Here's her site (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Junky191 (549088) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:31PM (#14021911)
  • by AutopsyReport (856852) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:35PM (#14021933)
    I'd like to think she is telling the truth, but I've known many types that will complain about anything. However, I've been around enough construction sites to know that the professionalism can be very sloppy and can induce the sort of incidents she described. This happens everyday.

    Now, the problem I have is that even if she drops the website and the company continues to pursue the lawsuit, she has so much to lose. She's risking the well-being of her three kids to battle a libel case, one which she (presumably) has no funds to support. I'm not suggesting its wrong to take a stand, but I know first-hand what it is like to battle a corporation when you are being sued. My best friend was sued $150,000 by a company (he had an accidental fire in the house he was renting) and lost everything. The company never got a dime from him, but he was forced into bankruptcy, fell behind on all his bills, and to this day is still being tracked by companies trying to collect for unpaid bills. He lost to the one with financial superiority, and this really threw his life off course -- all over an accidental fire. Now he can't get a mortgage, credit cards, or much else.

    If I was in this woman's position, I'd value the well-being of my kids over battling a corporation, because odds are she will not walk away from this in a better position than she was before this lawsuit started.

    • by Lifewish (724999) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @07:23PM (#14022606) Homepage Journal
      I read her site (google cache link [72.14.203.104]) and among the issues she raises are:
      • Contamination of groundwater - "Our moraine provides 300,000 people with ground source drinking water. We're the largest region in North America dependant on ground water. This moraine is one of the major sources for the Grand River and that is the only source of drinking water for Brantford, Brent County and Six Nations."
      • Danger to kids
        • from shoddy construction - "The KW record published that an 8 year old boy was killed in Montreal by falling wooden pallets on an unfenced Construction site and charges may be laid against the owners of the site."
        • from dangerous chemicals - "I have seen kids playing in a stagnant pond of water that was 4ft deep. It was filled with building debris including paint cans, fiberglass insulation, pressure treated wood, oil residue and tadpoles." "Parents should be aware that Pressure Treated wood is not safe. It contains many chemicals including arsenic and it's a known carcinogen."
        • from building debris - "I decided to speak to one of the folks who were outside with their three year old child. The yard was not completed and there was debris, including a half buried 2 by 4 sticking out of their yard with rusty nails in it. ... The condition of the yard was so poor they couldn't allow their child to play outside at all."
      • Dangerous personnel behaviour - "At another area construction site, unharnessed roofers and workers without hard hats were spotted working in the vacinity of high school students who were part of a federal Youth Training Program."

      So I'd say she's valuing the well-being of her kids and those around her here, especially given the number of such cases detailed on her site.
  • by joelsanda (619660) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:35PM (#14021935) Homepage
    ... MILS ... Mothers I'd Like to Sue ...
  • by Stephen Samuel (106962) <samuel@@@bcgreen...com> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:41PM (#14021967) Homepage Journal
    If I were here, I'd not only refuse to settle, I'd file a countersuit.

    If their actions have placed her kids at risk and (been part of what) led her to spend the expense and time of putting up the website to document their illegal actions, that should be just cause for a countersuit against them.

    Sue them for direct costs, her time (at a consulting rate of $60/hour), and punitive damages of $2Million. If they have said anything public about the suit (like claiming that she lied), then she can also countersue for libel. (In Canada, You can't sue for statements made in court or court documents, but you can sue for what's said on the courtroom steps before or after you file [umontreal.ca].)

  • aaa (Score:3, Funny)

    by akhomerun (893103) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:04PM (#14022110)
    i don't know what activa's all angry about, slashdot probably just took down her site anyway.
  • by Hosiah (849792) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:04PM (#14022112)
    Upon viewing the Google cache of her page, if even one tenth of this is true, that Activa Holdings, Inc. needs to be fined for all it has by the government and then shut down.

    From the site:
    "I saw a suspicious looking diesel tank. I took a closer look and saw it was intentionally supported on a pile of scrap wood on a tilt. That's when I noticed the rubber hose. The hose was being used to syphon the diesel fuel and below it was evidence of a spill. The area smelled strong and the ground was saturated."

    So, essentially, she had a nice suburban neighborhood and then somebody came in and dumped a tanker of diesel fuel all over the place. Yeah, I'd be pissed, too, if that happened on my street. I'd be demanding a cleanup.

    And:
    I saw many unharnessed roofers and dozens of workers without hard hats actively working on site. This one unharnessed roofer was quite a site to see. The yellow cable in the roof photos is the extention cord for the nail gun this fella was using while working on a roof of the house at 23 Big Springs Court. He squatted down on the wood of the roof and slid down it like a slide.

    Now, this is probably not her business. But still, this speaks of massive unprofessionalism. Some guys may be too macho to use safety harnesses, but every site I've ever been on required hard hats *everywhere*, even with nothing overhead. I don't know how things are regulated in Canada, but here in the USA that sounds like tens of thousands of dollars in OSHA fines, just for starters. Still other reports seem kind of iffy. Empty beer bottles can be left by any passing gaggle of kids - pictures of workers on the job in the daytime with the bottles in their hands would have been more damning.

    It looks like she might have had pictures, but they're not coming up in the Google cache. Pity, as even a photo or two would confirm this. I pray for her sake that this gets the throwing out of court that it most probably deserves. As for Activa Holdings, stupid move. Before, they had one website bad-mouthing them, now they've got half of Slashdot.

    • So, essentially, she had a nice suburban neighborhood and then somebody came in and dumped a tanker of diesel fuel all over the place. Yeah, I'd be pissed, too, if that happened on my street. I'd be demanding a cleanup.

      The thing about Waterloo, as mentioned in the Google-cache version of the web page, is that the entire region of around 300,000 people depend entirely on ground water drawn from wells. This makes the problem of leaky fuel tanks particularly important in that area.
  • Brutal (Score:5, Informative)

    by rinkjustice (24156) <rinkjusticeNO@SPAMNO_SPAMrocketmail.com> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:06PM (#14022121) Homepage Journal
    How does the management of Activa Holdings Inc. sleep at night? There are so many better ways this company could deal with this problem. The company is worried about slander, about their reputation being sullied? They're making themselves look worse and drawing even more attention to their alleged environmental crimes.

    I guess the important thing to do is follow up on this story. Write, phone, fax or email the CEO of Activa Group, Werner Brummund at:

    Activa Group
    735 Bridge Street West
    Waterloo ON
    N2V 2H1
    Canada

    Phone 5198869400
    Fax 5198868955
    Email kyantz@gto.net

    Send letters and emails of support and/or financial support to:

    Louisette Lanteigne,
    700 Star Flower Ave,
    Waterloo Ont.
    N2V 2L2
    Canada

    butterflybluelu@rogers.com

    We should spread the word about this, the more people who know about this David and Goliath fight, the better. The worst thing we can do is just shake our heads in pity and forget about this whole thing.

    Btw: what materials does Activa Group sell?
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:10PM (#14022142) Journal
    The U.S. has the Sullivan decision that defined libel and, if memory serves, ruled that the offending party has to prove that the particular writings at issue were made with malice and without regard to the truth. Prior to this the defendant had to prove that what he said was the truth.

    This could prove to be an excellent test case of Canada's libel laws vis a vis our Charter or Rights. If Activa Holdings is successful in their lawsuit then just about any negative comment about any company made in the press, on the radio or TV or by the public is actionable. Some provinces, such as British Columbia, have SLAPP legislation that helps in defending such lawsuits but Ontario, where this lawsuit was filed, to my knowledge does not.
  • No Surprise (Score:5, Informative)

    by GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:13PM (#14022158)
    I'm not surprised that the builder is trying to screw over the lady, while making a huge mess of their construction site.

    The 'Award Winning' company that built my townhouse in Burnaby BC ... Adera ... is the same kind of company.

    They knowingly built my whole complex below code. You can not get a queen sized mattress to the top floor going up the stairs, they are too narrow (yes, this is a building code they ignored). In fact some of the original owners here forced Adera to buy special two-piece mattress sets.

    Then there's the brutal water heating system. They knew damn well that once the place had sold out, the water heater system would be totally inadequate and prone to breakdowns, forcing our strata to look into a Boiler system.

    Then there's the creaky floors due to various other codes being ignored, such as distance between the stringers, and the methods of tying down the floor.

    Then there's the fact that every damn outlet in the house is crooked, the builders couldnt take 2 seconds to level them, not even the ones cut through tiles!

    And how about the severe cracking in the cement foundation in part of our underground parking.

    And the insufficient gutters and downspouts, built below code, that overflow in a heavy rain.

    And there's the landscaping that has been eroding away due to poor construction, one person has pretty much lost their back yard.

    Our building is only 6 or 7 years old. These are just the bigger problems ... again all from an AWARD WINNING building company! No wonder there's so many leaky condos in this city.

    I wish the lady luck, take down those bastards ... even though they will simply shut down, start up under a new name, and carry on with their crap.

    • Re:No Surprise (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Our building is only 6 or 7 years old. These are just the bigger problems ... again all from an AWARD WINNING building company! No wonder there's so many leaky condos in this city."

      I work in the industry as an architectural specifier. Bulk of my work in the last few years has been residential. The nature of the economy, both Canadian and American (I've worked in both) is such that it's a solid monetary investment for a venture capitalist. The return, while notspectacular, is better, and more stable, then i
  • Alarmist (Score:3, Interesting)

    by briancarnell (94247) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:26PM (#14022212) Homepage
    The woman appears to be quite the alarmist. For example, she falsely states that pressure treated wood is not safe since it is treated with, among other things, arsenic. Such wood is safe if handled properly [epa.gov].

    On the other hand, she doesn't say anything on there that is immediately libelous as most of it is "i saw this happening the other day at the site."

    I've always wondered what the internal culture is in companies that leads them to launch suits like this, as they almost always backfire even if they are won. The McDonald's lawsuit against a couple of people distributing anti-McDonald's pamphlets, for example, certainly led to much more anti-McDonald's media coverage than a couple of nutty activists could ever have managed on their own.
  • by dindi (78034) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:28PM (#14022226) Homepage
    My wife and me, her being a conservation biologist, me just your regular treehugger, were planning on making a site here ins Costa Rica, based on photos we would take riding around the country, me on my bike, her on her quad (both silenced, small bore, so don;t flame about exhaust fumes and saving the earth ....

    There are a bunch of local and foreign companies making serious damage, and we want to give it some exposure, besides riding around on our vehicles ....

    quite honestly that news piece made us think about how many companies would want to sue our asses if we get noticed .... so not we are re-thinking our strategy ...

    Our plan was to sneak around various industrial installations with a GPS and a digicam, and then post it blog-style with the help of goolge maps api ........ but now we are really reconsidering ....

    Would YOU have the balls?

  • by theolein (316044) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:29PM (#14022233) Journal
    The lady should counter sue the company for attempting to drive her into bankruptcy. She should sue for percentually as much, based on the company's income, as the company is suing her, i.e. if her yearly income is $60'000 and she get's sued for $2million, then if the company's yearly income is $10million then she should sue for $400million. She should plainly state that she is counter suing because the company is maliciously attempting to drive her into bankruptcy with an amount that she could never pay instead of just suing to get her to close down the website.

    She might not win, but it would provide precedence for annyone who is harrassed by giant companies in the future. (Hallo RIAA, did you hear that?) IT sure would be good to see some of those corporations think twice before abusing their power in future.
  • by RexRhino (769423) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:41PM (#14022322)
    I guess it is good and all that this women is documenting potential enviornmental problems in her subdivision... But really, a subdivision is a big giant enviornmental problem! It is kind of like driving a SUV, and then being pissed off because those people driving Hummers are wasting fuel.

    It sucks that the woman is getting sued, that is an outrage. But I wouldn't glorify what this woman is doing too much. She seems more the neighborhood busy body who calls the police when kids are playing touch football in the street, or who get a restraining order to keep their neighbor from painting their house purple, than some real enviornmental crusader.
  • Trial by Combat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CodeBuster (516420) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @07:45PM (#14022713)
    There was at one time in the western system of jurisprudence the notion of a Trial by Combat [wikipedia.org] whereby the acused had the right to compel the acuser or his champion to engage him (the defendant) or his champion in a judicially sanctioned duel whereby the judgement of God would decide the winner. The theory being that God would strengthen the arm and sharpen the skills of the party representing the truth thereby allowing him or his champion to overcome the guilty or his champion. Although there is little evidence in the modern context to prove it, I would bet that society in general would be more civil and courteous if one risked life and limb by slandering his neighbor or falsly acusing him. How many corporate executives would acuse people of slander or insult them in public if they had to face the defendant or his champion at the wrong end of a sharp and pointy object?
  • by ylikone (589264) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @08:31PM (#14022950) Homepage
    She sent this to someone at rabble.ca, which is were I copied and pasted it from:

    ------ Thanks so much! I have a pretty strong case of defence at my end including many letters of thanks from the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Labour. To want to sue me for $2,000,000 is just a way of "SLAPPing me." "SLAPP" stands for "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation". SLAPPs are legal actions (usually defamation actions) launched for the primary purpose of shutting down criticism, and without a strong cause of action. The plaintiff's goal in a SLAPP is not to win the lawsuit, but is rather to silence a critic by instilling fear of large legal costs and the spectre of large damage awards. Despite their right to free speech, critics may be frightened into silence e.g., taking down websites or comments made on line - if they are threatened with a defamation-based SLAPP. This method will not work with me. I've got way to much evidence at my end. I could actually counter sue for what I have been through so we'll see what happens. Either way, I'm glad it's out there in the media. Folks really need to know. With letters like yours it's great to know the message is getting out there. Thanks for your support! Louisette Lanteigne Waterloo Ont. -----

  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @08:44PM (#14023016) Homepage
    this is a _copy_ of a _copy_. the geocities site on which the copy
    is hosted is overloaded. so i made a copy of the google cache, here:

    http://hands.com/~lkcl/activa.holdings.report.by.l ouisette.lanteigne.html [hands.com]
  • by redelm (54142) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @09:34PM (#14023210) Homepage
    Well, well. Somebody's knickers got in a twist. And they decided to sue. Of course they can do that, but at their peril.

    Cdn law is different from US law in a number of important instiutional details. The judge can and will award costs. Even if the company is technically correct, it could still wind up paying the defense costs. Automagically if the defendant pays a nominal sum "into court" and the award is less than this.

  • by justins (80659) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @09:56PM (#14023303) Homepage Journal
    Let this be a lesson. In the days of cheap digital cameras, if you're going to take on a task like this woman did, you might as well photograph every last thing and notate when the pictures were taken, and under what circumstances.

    If that became a common practice, it's easy to imagine the bigger engineering companies collaborating with our elected officials to create laws and ordinances against "photographing at a construction site" or some shit. Something unconstitutional but meant to up the ante a litle bit for anyone who wants to take this task on.

    In the mean time, give 'em hell.
  • by zokrath (593920) on Monday November 14, 2005 @12:49AM (#14023954)
    Currently, corporations are blessed with many of the benefits of citizenship, and few of the limitations.

    What we need are reforms to greatly limit the impact that corpotations can have on individual citizens.

    To start, a corporation suing an individual citizen must cover that citizens legal fees, up to a certain percentage of their own legal cost, for instance 25%.
    The money will be paid up front on a monthly basis, and does not need to be returned under any circumstances.
    Any taxes for the legal fee reimbursement will be paid by the corporation, such that the citizen recieves, after all applicable taxes, the required amount.
    The legal fee reimbursement will not be considered income for purposes of welfare, disability, unemployment, etc, and can be used for any purpose with no limitations.

    Obviously the first things corporations will do is claim that their legal costs are next to nothing, because all of their lawyers are on retainer, and thus 'free'
    Good job at finding the loophole, Mr. Suit, that simply means that the assumed legal cost will be the monthly salary of each lawyer who touches the case, times the number of years that the case. Alternate compensation would also need to be considered, including stock options, company cars and houses, so forth and so on.

    Under current market and legal conditions, often it is such that citizens have little to no recourse when corporations violate laws in a way harmful to said citizens.
    And yet, the same corporations that are effectively immune to citizen retaliation can effortlessly bankrupt numerous citizens via legal entanglements.

    Corporations should not be able to force citizens into disfavorable settlements that entail large fines and the sacrifice of the citizens rights and future liability by threatening a never-ending legal battle that will cost the citizen large amounts of money even to enlist a single lawyer for the duration of their defense.

    Corporations may exist solely to turn a profit for the shareholders, but they are allowed to exist solely to benefit the economy and thus the country. Suing private citizens rarely has any kind of benefit beyond establishing corporate dominance over the citizen, which is certainly bad for the country, as the country is, in fact, said citizen.

    Of course, I am in no way qualified for legal or economic analysis, so obviously all of this will no doubt cause an economic recession as the rights of the pitiful corporations are simply trampled upon by an uncaring, unfeeling mass of citizens, who the corporations have no means of stopping. Which would be rather similar to the current situation, except with the trampling being the other way around.

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