Petrolia mayor wins defamation suit in Small Claims court

Petrolia resident Jeff Johnston may be proof that the adage ending with  " . . . names will never hurt me" may not be so true after all.

Such as it is, Johnston has been ordered to pay Petrolia Mayor John McCharles close to $25,000 in damages and court costs relating from an incident in May 2010 in which Johnston was heard allegedly defaming McCharles in a council meeting.

Small Claim Deputy Judge Kenneth Koprowski, who made the ruling after a trial in September, wrote that the statements made by Johnston constituted a "high-handed and deliberate" effort to destroy the personal and professional reputation of McCharles.

In the judgment, released Oct. 31, Koprowski said the personal attack resulted in emotional suffering and sleepless nights for McCharles.

Johnston had presented three truck rental agreements said to have been made made years earlier by McCharles, made out in Johnston's name.

McCharles had said he believed Johnston was to be the driver, the reason the agreements were drawn up in that manner.

Neither the rental company nor the insurance company objected, McCharles said, but Johnston had refused to believe there was no issue, said the judge.

Johnston's claim of damages of $10,000 alleging defamation in a newspaper article was dismissed by Judge Koprowski, citing a failure to notify McCharles of the impending suit, plus a failure to meet a three-month deadline for filing of such a claim.,

Johnston was ordered to pay $2,384 in court costs as part of the $24,568 judgment.

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