A B.C. power company, tired of waiting for its settlement from a U.S. court battle against a company that subcontracted now-disgraced Enron, has finally convinced the B.C. courts to force payment.
In 1997, Montreal-based Alcan Inc. (formerly Alcan Aluminum Limited) agreed to supply power to BC Hydro. Alcan designated Enron Power Marketing Inc. to supply a portion of that electricity. Enron, of course, went bankrupt and could not meet its obligations, so Powerex, a subsidiary of BC Hydro, requested that Alcan pay BC Hydro a $100-million US termination fee. Alcan refused.
Powerex began legal proceedings in the United States. Arbitration, a court hearing and a court review all found that Alcan should pay. Alcan has appealed, however, and a judgment is not expected until mid-to-late 2005.
Powerex applied to the B.C. court system to enforce the U.S. rulings. In a recent judgment, Madam Justice B.J. Brown of the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that Alcan must pay the money, together with interest, to Powerex’s solicitors in trust. Powerex may use the funds as it wishes. However, should Alcan’s appeal succeed in 2005, Powerex must pay every penny back.
A bill in the mouth is worth two breasts in the eye. Isn’t that how the old adage goes? On an investigative assignment that most men would be happy to volunteer for, police officers allegedly observed illegal contact occurring at a B.C. pub that features exotic dancers, and charged the establishment.
Sentinel Peak Holdings Ltd., doing business as No. 5 Orange Street Hotel in Vancouver, features exotic dancers at the pub. Two rules that govern such establishments are 1) employees cannot drink alcoholic beverages while working, and 2) employees cannot touch each other, or permit touching by the patrons. After an undercover police investigation, the pub was charged with violating both.
The hotel agreed to pay a $1,000 fine for employees drinking on the job, but disputed the evidence surrounding the alleged “touching” incidents.
Ten officers were involved in the investigation, but apparently were slightly distracted during their observations. Although they allege that they saw patrons holding bills in their teeth, which the dancers would grab between their breasts, and that they witnessed the dancers performing “an impromptu lesbian act” on stage, the officers were unable to provide descriptions of the dancers involved in either act.
In spite of the hotel’s complaints, Madam Justice N. Morrison of the B.C. Supreme Court sided with the police and refused to overturn the charges.
LENDING OR LARCENY
Had a B.C. man heeded Shakespeare’s “neither a borrower nor a lender be” advice, he may not have lost his job. Instead, allowing an employee to use the company’s concrete equipment landed him in court claiming wrongful dismissal.
Keith Christopher Goodkey was a concrete pump operator employed by Dynamic Concrete Pumping Inc. since 1987. In 2000, he was promoted to sales representative and manager of the Surrey, B.C., office, when Dynamic president Joseph Bruce Delehay moved to Alberta to manage Dynamic’s Calgary operations.
According to court documents, Dynamic had a relaxed policy about employees borrowing equipment. Goodkey borrowed a pumper (a 20,250-kilogram truck with a cement mixer and boom) to pour concrete for his cabin’s foundation, for a friend’s barn floor and a retaining wall. It required only permission from Delehay, no formal paperwork and little or no payment (sometimes a couple of cases of beer.)
When Goodkey became the Surrey office manager, he received one request to borrow the pumper, and it is this request that got him in trouble. Goodkey’s version of events in court documents states that Jack Radu, a Dynamic employee, asked Goodkey to borrow the pumper. Goodkey agreed, for a price of $200 to be paid to the company. Delehay was never informed of the deal. Court papers show that Dynamic’s dispatcher, Denise Schroeder, was upset that the pumper was taken without her knowledge, and called Delehay to complain. Goodkey went to Radu and got her the $200 cheque.
Radu’s version of events is a little different. In court documents, Radu contends that he made a deal with Goodkey to rent, not borrow, the pumper. Radu testified that Goodkey specified $300 as the rental price and whatever was left over after hiring a pump operator would be paid to Goodkey in cash. Radu contends that only once Schroeder and Delehay found out about the deal, did Goodkey ask Radu to write a cheque.
Court documents note Delehay heard conflicting versions of the events, and found out that Radu used the pumper not for personal uses, but for work for Joe Guisti, a competitor of Dynamic. According to court records, Delehay flew to Vancouver, and in a meeting with Radu and Goodkey, said, “I don’t know who to believe. You’re both fired.”
Radu went on to find another job, but Goodkey approached the B.C. courts claiming wrongful dismissal. Justice W.B. Scarth, in the B.C. Supreme Court, recently decided that there was not sufficient evidence to justify Goodkey’s dismissal. Scarth instead chose to believe Goodkey’s testimony that he did not intend to personally profit from Radu’s deal, and discounted Delehay’s claim that “he (Goodkey) stole from me.” Damages total $32,307.55.
(Cases are taken from British Columbia Supreme Court documents. Nicole Strandlund can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)