In a prior blog post we reported about a unit owner, Mr. Lahrkamp, who had engaged in more than a dozen legal proceedings against his condominium corporation over approximately ten years. Most of the legal proceedings relating to requests by Mr. Lahrkamp for production of documents pursuant to section 55 of the Condominium Act, 1998. While the condominium corporation was ordered to produce some documents to Mr. Lahrkamp, most of his legal claims were dismissed.
The dispute between the parties was characterized by one judge as “a long, tortuous, labyrinthine and costly litigation saga”. As all this litigation was not only expensive, but very time-consuming for the corporation’s board of directors and property manager, the corporation successfully applied to the Court for an order prohibiting Mr. Lahrkamp from commencing any further legal proceedings against the corporation, except with leave of a judge of the Superior Court of Justice. Mr. Lahrkamp was also prohibited from commencing any legal proceedings against any current, past or future directors of the corporation, its property manager and any of the corporation’s service providers, without leave from a judge.
Prior to the court order being granted, a two-pronged legal test needed to be met:
- the legal proceedings had to be persistent and without reasonable grounds;
- the proceedings were commenced or conducted in a vexatious manner.
In reviewing the litigation history, the Judge determined that Mr. Lahrkamp had persistently instituted legal proceedings without reasonable grounds as he had failed to produce any evidence to support his allegations against the corporation, and his document requests constituted fishing expeditions without a focus and without a rational reason. He had also failed to examine or pick up over five years documents that the corporation had been ordered to provide and did provide. The Judge commented that “seeking relief that one never exercises when awarded is tantamount to commencing or prosecuting a proceeding without reasonable grounds”.
The Judge also concluded that Mr. Lahrkamp conducted his legal proceedings in a vexatious manner on the following bases:
- he relitigated issues that had already been determined;
- a number of Mr. Lahrkamp’s claims could not succeed because they were brought after the expiry of the limitation period;
- Lahrkamp’s claims for production of proxies for elections long past could not lead to any possible good as the tenure of the boards elected at those meetings was over;
- he rolled forward claims that were previously unsuccessful by repeating a claim for a different time period;
- there was no proper purpose for Mr. Lahrkamp’s legal actions – conducting a fishing expedition without any evidence of improprieties was not a proper purpose; and
- Lahrkamp was litigating to harass the board, not to “vindicate a legitimate right”.
After more than a decade dealing with Mr. Lahrkamp’s requests and legal claims, the corporation was no doubt relieved to get the court order that they were seeking to put an end to the “Lahrkamp Saga”.
The order that was issued was very specific. It applies only to the corporation and its directors, property manager and service providers. If Mr. Lahrkamp becomes the owner in another condominium the restrictions imposed on him would not apply to that condominium corporation.