Ex-school board employee ordered to cover full legal fees for improper liens against worker in vaccination policy fallout

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An Ontario court has awarded full indemnity costs of nearly $23,000 to a group of people affiliated with the York Region District School Board who were subjected to “reprehensible” conduct by a former employee.

The conflict began when the employee, CD, who started working for the School Board in 1999, was placed on an unpaid leave of absence in November 2021 for failing to comply with the Board’s vaccination policy.

Following this, CD registered a series of Personal Property Security Act (PPSA) liens against current and former employees of the Board, with a total claimed value of over $1.5 million. These liens were registered without the consent or a valid security interest from the individuals involved.

“I claim that (the plaintiffs) did wrongfully coerce interfere and infringe concerning my right to enjoy and provide services for York Region District School Board and did cause me loss and harm,” CD wrote in a document she described as a “Notice.” “I am lawfully using a lawful lean [sic] for what I believe is fair compensation owed to me for wrongs made against me.”

Despite repeated requests from the applicants’ counsel for her to discharge these liens, CD refused, leading to the commencement of the legal application. In her defense, CD submitted a notice and documents to the court, claiming her right to participate in the proceedings in her private capacity and arguing for fair compensation for alleged wrongs against her.

The court, however, found her claims to be unfounded and her documents legally ineffective. Justice Robert Centa wrote: “None of the documents delivered by (CD) to the applicants or filed with the court have any legal effect.” The judge recognized that CD did not have any valid security interest against the personal property of any of the applicants and did not provide evidence to support her claims of a security interest.

“(CD) has not produced any evidence to demonstrate that she has any valid security interests. At best, she has stated that (she) may have a claim for wrongful dismissal or potentially other claims in contract or tort, but she has not commenced an action,” the court said.

Consequently, the court ordered the registrar to discharge all liens registered by CD against the applicants. Furthermore, the court imposed a $500 statutory penalty per applicant — there were five listed in the court documents — citing her refusal to discharge the improperly registered instruments as required by the PPSA.

Legal costs

Regarding the costs of the legal proceedings, the applicants sought full indemnity costs amounting to $22,923.37. The court, considering the conduct of CD as “reprehensible,” granted this request and ordered her to pay the full amount to the applicants.

“In my view, (CD’s) reprehensible conduct justifies an order requiring her to pay the applicants their costs on a full-indemnity basis,” it said. “I have reviewed the applicants’ costs outline. The hourly rates, time spent, and hours charged are all very reasonable. In my view, it is fair and reasonable for (CD) to pay the amount claimed by the applicants.”

Punitive damages

The plaintiffs in this case sought punitive damages against CD of $10,000. The court declined, but issued a warning to her.

“(She) should not expect to avoid a significant award of punitive damages if she ever again engages in such malicious and reprehensible conduct,” it said.

For more information, see York Region District School Board v. Dale-Allen, 2024 ONSC 597 (CanLII).

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