Calvin Gordon’s defamation, harassment suits are postponed
Clock reset for proceedings against Orillia, Ont. residents and trades due to legal technicalities
May 27, 2019 by John Bleasby
Despite the latest delays announced by the court last week, Calvin Gordon and Leslie Morris are determined to continue their multiple lawsuits against two sub-trades, residents of Fergushill Estates near Orillia Ontario, and the director of a second nearby estate park. However, Gordon and Morris must now wait until the fall of 2019 before at least three of these four cases can come to trial. In each of the new filings, Gordon and Morris are seeking the maximum $25,000 award allowed under small claims court, for a total of $100,000.
Gordon has previous criminal and Consumer Act convictions
Calvin Gordon and Leslie Morris had been operating in the Orillia and Muskoka area north of Toronto under the name More For Less since the expiry of Gordon’s probationary period in late 2017, a condition of his sentence after being convicted in Niagara Falls, Ontario back in 2015 for offenses under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act. As part of his sentence, he was, “prohibited from owning, operating or acting as an officer or director in any company that provides home renovation services or other home residential products and services” for two years. Gordon had also been previously convicted in criminal court and jailed for 71 days for possession under $5,000 and uttering forged documents.
Irreconcilable differences has resulted in failed mediation
As reported previously in Canadian Contractor, a small claims action had been filed in the fall of 2018 by Fergushill residents David Beeston and his wife Margaret Gomez against Gordon, Morris and More For Less. The couple were unhappy with work contracted with More For Less, and had documented several alleged deficiencies, including work undertaken without required building permits. They are currently seeking damages totalling the maximum $25,000 award allowed under Ontario small claims rules.
Rather than settle out of court, Gordon, Morris and their company chose to double down. In addition to filing a defence against the damage claims, they decided at the same time to counter sue not only Beeston and Gomez, but also five additional individuals who were not past customers. They accused the group of, “assault, intentional infliction of distress, nuisance, breach of privacy, conspiracy to injure, loss of income and defamation of character.”
After irreconcilable differences resulted in a failed attempt at mediation on November 22, 2018, the Justice of the Peace told the parties’ legal representatives to expect a spring trial date in 2019 in Orillia small claims court. Then in early 2019, Gordon and Morris decided to split their original single court action against the seven defendants into four. However, by doing so, new settlement conferences were required for each of the three new cases, hence the delay before coming to trial.
“What a deplorable example of elder abuse.”
While the postponement of Gordon and Morris’ court actions was a disappointment for those hoping for a resolution on May 23, it did present an opportunity for one unhappy More For Less customer to make some progress in her own action against Gordon through Ontario Consumer Protection. The 82-year-old woman from Bracebridge, Ontario had been unable to deliver the required letter of complaint to Gordon. It had been sent by registered mail in early November 2018 to his last known address, only to be returned undelivered. The woman had driven 60km in order to attend to the May 23 hearings in Orillia as an observer to the proceedings. Although observers were not permitted to attend the settlement conferences, she was able to serve her letter to Gordon personally, in the presence of one of his paralegals.
Canadian Contractor has obtained a copy of her letter. In it, she outlines complaints of poor workmanship and deficiencies that failed to meet her requirement for a safe, leak-proof roof over her head, as contracted in July 2018. She had, in total, paid over $26,000 for Gordon’s work. “I am extremely disappointed to learn that you did not honour this very important part of the contract,” she wrote. “I can only surmise that you assumed that an old woman like myself would never find out. What a deplorable example of elder abuse.”
Claims of emotional damages have yet to be proven in court
In their multiple lawsuits, Gordon and Morris have labelled the group as “co-conspirators…who acted in concert, by agreement, or with a common design or intention, professionally and personally.” They accuse the group of “harassing and intimidating conduct,” that included making verbal statements, speaking to the media, and posting notices, thereby “knowingly and intentionally and maliciously sought to injure.”
Gordon and Morris allege they were forced to refund deposits, and “are not able to secure any work anywhere, and that any contracts that were to commence have been cancelled.” The suit lists “chronic feelings of fear, insecurity, shock, distress, trauma, confusion, frustration, irritation, anxiety and emotional upset,” as well as claims for the need of “medical assistance… due to the continuous harassment and defamation.” None of these allegations have been proven in court.
One case proceeds, three others are pending
The original case between Beeston/Gomez and Gordon/Morris/More For Less will go ahead on its own, with a scheduled July 18 trial date. However, since attempts on May 23 to settle any of the three newly separated cases were unsuccessful, the parties were given instructions by the court governing the next steps in the proceedings leading to trial, along with new time frames.
Canadian Contractor obtained copies of the Endorsement Records issued by court referee D.J. Sellers following the May 23 settlement conferences. Sellers’ first ruling involved defendants Fergushill residents Alma Hesselius and Mel Crim. Hessilius and Crim were directors of the residents association at the residential park in 2018, the time of the alleged conspiracy, but were not customers of More For Less. All parties, including Gordon and Morris, were instructed by Sellers to, “rely on the rules respecting disclosure and witness list, being 30 days prior to trial. On consent, plaintiff [Gordon and Morris] has 60 days from today’s date to set the matter down to trial.”
A secret recording of alleged slander and defamation
A second, near-identical action was also filed against Ian Cowie, a director of nearby Big Cedar Estates, a privately-owned residential estate park which like Fergushill is also largely populated by seniors and retirees. Here the allegations of harassment and defamation include a secret recording made during a park residents’ meeting which was later handed over to Gordon. This case was also postponed, with referee Sellers writing, “the matter shall not be set down for trial until the amended plaintiff’s claim is filed with the court.” His ruling also allows the defendant another 60 days thereafter to file a defense.
A third court action also including allegations of harassment and defamation, launched against former More For Less sub-trade employees Mark Sliwinski and Gaetan Carriere, was adjourned since neither man appeared in court on May 23.
Calvin Gordon contacted Canadian Contractor the day after the May 23 meetings, but declined to speak on the record.
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