Previously convicted contractor Calvin Gordon, facing legal actions from clients, countersues them
Gordon and his partner claim damages from their clients for "assault, intentional infliction of distress, nuisance, breach of privacy, conspiracy to injure, loss of income, and defamation of character." The matter is headed for trial in Orillia, Ontario, early in 2019
November 22, 2018 by John Bleasby
ORILLIA, ONT.—Nov. 22, 2018 Calvin Gordon, proprietor of More for Less Contracting, Niagara Falls, Ontario, was not present at the Orillia Courthouse today for the first stage of what promises to be an intense legal battle between Gordon and his “romantic partner” Leslie Morris, on the one hand, and Gordon’s and Morris’s legal accusers: residents in two trailer home estates near Orillia.
The residents claim Gordon and Morris have ripped them off by providing shoddy, substandard work – and worse. Gordon and Morris have countered with legal action of their own against their accusers. Today’s proceedings at the courthouse were limited to an attempt at mediation – standard small claims court procedure in most cases. Some 20 of the aggrieved residents, mostly seniors, were in attendance at the courthouse, but did not participate in the mediation hearing itself, which occurred with legal representatives behind closed doors.
The attempt at mediation was, clearly, doomed from the outset. The two sides are likely just too angry at each other. The residents point to what they claim was shoddy work and sometimes unsafe work, broken promises, physical threats from the contractor and more. The contractor counter-claims, among many other claims, to have been publicly defamed causing his business significant loss of income as well as cancelled projects. A Justice of the Peace told the paralegals to expect a trial date in April, according to Robin MacLeod, the Innisfil/Barrie, Ontario paralegal representing some of the residents.
As reported here in early October, More for Less clients Dave Beeston and wife Margaret Gomez were the first residents to launch a legal action against Gordon and Leslie – in August of this year. The couple cited numerous deficiencies in roof, siding and windows installation, electrical wiring and carpentry work on the couple’s home in Fergushill Estates. They also allege that the contractor undertook structural work on their home without a work permit issued by the Township of Oro-Medonte.
Gordon himself has a previous history of ripping off some of his clients. While operating his previous firm, Home-Tek Exteriors, Niagara Falls, Gordon was convicted in 2015 under the Ontario Consumer Protection Act for taking deposits but then failing to do the work. On Aug. 28 of that year, in the Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines, Gordon was ordered by the judge to pay $11,200 in restitution to 11 previous clients in the Niagara Region and Toronto areas. Specifically, he was convicted for “engaging in an unfair practice by making false, misleading or deceptive representations to consumers” between January and September 2013, according to Consumer Protection Ontario.
Gordon was also “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.” He was also ordered to have no association or contact with any of his victims or their families. Gordon did pay his restitution and honoured the other terms of his conviction.
However, apparently eager to resume work as a contractor, Gordon almost immediately began work under his current company name, More for Less, when his probationary period expired in 2017. From the summer of that year, More for Less began knocking on doors at the two housing estates in Orillia, and multiple projects commenced.
Gordon is now fighting back legally against seven of his multiple accusers. Shortly after Beeston and Gomez decided to take Gordon back to court (including, this time, his partner Morris), Gordon and Morris issued, through their paralegal representative, Leigh-Anne Ott-Christakos, their own court filing of more than 70 pages and 173 clauses, a copy of which was obtained by Canadian Contractor. The couple – and the firm itself – claim damages for “assault, intentional infliction of distress, nuisance, breach of privacy, conspiracy to injure, loss of income and defamation of character.” Gordon, Morris and More for Less, as a company, are each claiming $25,000 in damages apiece from each individual – for a total of $75,000 per named individual.
The filing also names Mark Sliwinski and Gaetan Carrie, partners in an Orillia-based contracting business. Sliwinski had posted on Canadian Contractor’s online comment section in early October, “My partner and I would like to reach out to all who may have been victimized by Mr. Gordon in the hopes we can offer some form of support and to evaluate the work done for legal reasons or otherwise.”
Gordon’s conviction in 2015 was not his only transgression of the law. Ontario court records obtained by Canadian Contractor reveal that Gordon has been previously convicted in criminal court and jailed for 71 days for possession under $5,000 and uttering forged documents. Canadian Contractor has no reason to believe these convictions were or are currently related to Gordon’s construction or renovation activities.
Fergushill Estates is operated by an entity called CAPREIT, a real estate investment trust that trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. CAPREIT made an attempt to protect its residents at this community by writing to Gordon on March 21, 2018.
Over the signature of CAPREIT operations manager Jenny Mailman, CAPREIT told Gordon: “It has come to our attention that your company has performed work on our property without obtaining the necessary municipal building permits, have been soliciting door-to-door and have had several confrontations with residents living in the community. Because of this we must inform you that you are disallowed from working at Fergushill Estates. Please complete any work that you have already started prior to April 30, 2018… As of May 2018 we ask that you not return to the community or you will be considered trespassing and the police may be contacted.”
However, it appears that CAPREIT did not enforce this demand, because Gordon, Morris and More For Less continued to work at Fergushill throughout the spring and summer of 2018. Based on Canadian Contractor interviews with residents, it appears that More for Less took payment for work on over 30 homes at Fergushill.
Canadian Contractor has attempted to contact Ms. Mailman, CAPREIT community manager Erica Lee Noble, and CAPREIT’s president David Ehrlich for comment. None has responded to our inquiries as to why CAPREIT failed to enforce its prohibition and to take further steps to ensure the safety and security of its tenants.
Meanwhile, at nearby Big Cedar Estates, a park owned by the homeowners themselves, More For Less completed work on further 12 homes, according to the contractor’s court filing. It has also been reported to Canadian Contractor by some residents that More For Less accepted payment for work on homes in local areas outside the two parks as well. Given that most of these projects were valued at between $10,000 and $20,000, the total scope of work undertaken in the Orillia area by Gordon, Morris and More for Less can be estimated at between $450,000 and $900,000.
The “confrontations” referenced in CAPREIT’s March 2018 letter continued for months. Canadian Contractor was told of at least eight separate allegations of harassment and threats by the contractor, aimed at residents of Fergushill and Big Cedar Estates. These alleged incidents were reported by residents to the Barrie detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police and involved eight different responding officers. But they did not lead to any charges.
Upon direct inquiry with the Barrie detachment of the OPP in mid-October, community safety officer PC Clark Putnam told Canadian Contractor he was unaware of the complaints lodged against the contractor during 2018. However, PC Putnam immediately began to look into the matter, and organized a meeting of concerned residents of both parks at the Barrie detachment in early November. The OPP investigation is ongoing.
In spite of seven individuals facing legal action from Gordon, Morris and More For Less, residents of Fergus Hill and Big Cedar appear not to be backing down. Statements of defence, counter-suits, and new civil actions are being launched by additional past customers who have recently come forward. Canadian Contractor has recently learned that Consumer Protection Ontario is looking into the situation.
We will continue to monitor and report on this story as it evolves.