Councillor's $2.25-million case against city back before courts
Published Wednesday, October 12, 2016 5:12PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, July 11, 2018 5:00PM EDT
Councillor Hilary Payne at Windsor City Council in Windsor, Ont., on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. (Rich Garton / CTV Windsor)
A Windsor city councillor’s case against the very city he now represents is finally before the courts.
Ward 9 councillor Hilary Payne’s $2.25-million civil suit against the city pre-dates his time on council. It was filed more than six years ago – alleging malicious prosecution – for his part as landlord of a west-end home that went up in flames in 2006.
A late-night fire at 614 Mill St. resulted in a number of injuries – the most serious of which sent 20-year-old Ann Culligan to hospital with severe burns and smoke inhalation. The house was inhabited by a number of students at the university.
Norman Fraser – one of the tenants – was charged with Arson. Charges against him were later acquitted.
But Payne, and his wife, Gloria, were also charged as property owners, with “Arson by Negligence.”
Though those charges were dropped by a judge in 2008, Payne pursued a civil suit against the city, as well as Windsor Fire and Police and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office. The suit describes the investigation as negligent, calls it an abuse of process, and an infringement of the Payne’s charter rights.
The matter has been held up a number of times since the filing. The city attempted to have the matter thrown out when Payne was elected to council in 2010. A judge tossed that appeal in 2012, and allowed the case to be heard.
Wednesday was day 10 of proceedings, according to councillor Payne.
Neither Payne, nor his lawyer, Raymond Colautti, would comment further until the case is complete.