Attorney Charles Campbell, left, and Summerside Deputy Police Chief David Griffin. Journal Pioneer File Photo
SUMMERSIDE – It's the court case that never seems to end.
Lawyers involved in the city's dispute with Deputy Police Chief David Griffin are still wrangling over the interest on money owed to Griffin and the issue is back in court.
"I'm thoroughly surprised that this has to go back to court again," a frustrated Griffin said. "Fourteen years is totally ridiculous. My opinion is it should have been settled, closed, concluded when (arbiter) Lynn Murray made her decision in December 1999 (when she threw out sexual harassment charges filed by the city against Griffin)."
Griffin said not only the council of the day back in 1999 but each proceeding council right up to the present have had ample opportunity to deal with this issue and have not.
"It's ridiculous that it's been dragging on and putting my life on hold. It's unconscionable what's going on," he said Tuesday.
Griffin said the responsibility lies totally with mayor and council.
"We went to every court that we could on Prince Edward Island; a Supreme Court judge, the appeals court of Prince Edward Island with the three Supreme Court Judges, the Supreme Court of Canada, back again before the three Supreme Court (appeals division) judges on the cost and I won every court case. So, it's time to put this behind us. And that's up to Mayor Basil Stewart and council. This has been an absolute waste of taxpayers' money," Griffin said.
The entire episode has taken its toll on Griffin not only emotionally, but financially as well.
"I've lost my savings, Canada Bonds savings, I had to go bankrupt," he said. "That's what this has done to me."
In March of 2006 Supreme Court Justice Wayne Cheverie ruled in favour of Griffin in his malicious prosecution suit against former police Chief George Arsenault and the city of Summerside. Cheverie dismissed the claims against then Sgt. David Poirier and Chief Administrative Officer Terry Murphy
Cheverie also ruled Griffin should receive court costs against Arsenault and the city, but did not set an amount.
It took more than four years for those costs to be determined and on July 28, 2010, the P.E.I. Supreme Court appeals division set those costs at $125,000. This was supposed to put an end to a multi-faceted case that lasted over 13 years and divided a city. But now, nearly three months after that ruling, the case is back in court with the city's lawyers arguing over interest amounts that should be paid to Griffin on his $125,000 court costs award.
Griffin's attorney Charles Campbell said the matter is being handled through submissions to the courts and he is awaiting a decision. He said the court of appeal said it would take written submissions on the issue and those have now been filed. The amount involved in interest payments totals about $20,000.
Campbell said this new wrinkle in the ongoing case was unexpected.
"It actually surprised me," he said. "I thought that it would be clear enough that you get your cost from the date of your trial (March 2006) but the law's a bit slippery. We'll see what the court says, but our argument was interest should run from the point when you know you're going to have to pay the cost even if you don't know how much."
Malcolm Millar, director of financial services for the city, said the city's insurers are going to pay the costs that were awarded at the last stage of the trial.
"The insurers' lawyers are of a difference of opinion from Charles Campbell as to what the interest amount should be or when the clock started ticking to calculate interest on the amount of the award," he said. "The city's position has been we have been encouraging our insurer to try and settle up with Griffin on the amounts that are in agreement."