British Columbia Supreme Court dismisses karate instructor’s lawsuit

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has dismissed a lawsuit against an inland school district that alleged the district engaged in fraud, collusion, defamation and breach of contract .

Sheldon Scott Hutcheson brought the allegations against the Kootenay-Columbia School District School Board after a series of events that took place in April 2017.

At that time, Hutcheson had a tenancy agreement with the district that allowed him to operate a karate club in the Fruitvale Elementary School gymnasium two nights a week, according to a court judge ruling last month. Supreme Court of British Columbia, Lindsay M. Lyster.

The ruling says the school district terminated the agreement when it learned that Hutcheson had been arrested and released on bail, with conditions – among other things – that he not attend any school or other place frequented by children. under 16 years old.

Hutcheson was charged with child luring, possession of child pornography and failing to comply with an appearance, notice or summons, but all of those charges were stayed by Crown counsel, according to the court’s decision.

The ruling says Hutcheson consented to a peace bond for fear of committing a sexual offence. The BC government website describes a peace bond as “a court order used to restrain you from committing (or re-offending) a crime”, which “requires you to agree to terms specific to maintain peace”.

In a separate lawsuit against the RCMP and the province, Hutcheson alleged that the Mounties laid charges against him when they shouldn’t have and engaged in malicious pursuits and frauds. He was claiming $10 million in damages.

That lawsuit was dismissed in December 2020, as the judge in that case determined that Hutcheson failed to provide any factual basis for his claims. The judge also found that the allegations were “confusing and unintelligible…vexatious, unnecessary and frivolous…embarrassing and an abuse of process.”

In the lawsuit against the school district, Hutcheson claimed there were no reasonable grounds to terminate his lease because the charges that led to it had been stayed.

Lyster rejected this argument, ruling that the breach of contract claim was doomed because of the broadly worded termination clause in the school district’s facility rental policy.

“The District reserves the right, in its interests, to deny any group or individual access to the facility, or to cancel any rental or intended use of a facility at any time,” the policy reads, according to Lyster.

The school district said it canceled the rental agreement because Hutcheson’s bail conditions prohibited him from being on school property, and the judge noted that Hutcheson had not disputed that this was the case.

“Rather, he argues that the conditions were ‘falsely imposed judicial restraints’ that wrongfully prohibited him, and him alone, from frequenting school property,” Lyster wrote in his ruling.

“There is no evidence in court that the conditions prohibiting Mr. Hutcheson from being on school property were ‘falsely imposed’ by the court,” she continues. “Even if they were, it would not be information within the knowledge of the school district. The school district, in its role to protect the safety of its students, could only act on the basis of the information provided, to know that Mr. Hutcheson was subject to court-ordered restrictions that prohibited him from being on school property.”

For similar reasons, Lyster dismissed Hutcheson’s allegations that the school district “cheated” him out of a refund on his rent payments after the contract was terminated, and that the school district superintendent “collaborated” with him. the RCMP in order to defame him.

In each case, the judge found that Hutcheson presented no evidence to suggest the alleged offense had been committed.

She also dismissed Hutcheson’s allegation that the superintendent defamed him in a letter sent to an elementary school informing parents of his case. Lyster concluded that Hutcheson had not presented evidence to prove that the allegedly defamatory words in the letter identified him, since he was not named in the letter, nor in a news story to which the letter was linked.

“A person with knowledge of previous articles in other local media might have guessed that the individual referred to in Mr. Ford’s letter was Mr. Hutcheson, but there is no evidence before the court that anyone did in fact,” Lyster’s decision reads.

Dismissing the case, she ordered Hutcheson to pay the school district $1,000 in costs.

About Tracy G. Larimore

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