$800 fines for smokers rise to $13,000 in BC strata dispute | infonews

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August 13, 2022 – 07:00

A B.C. condo owner who racked up $800 in fines for smoking his condo will now have to pay $13,000 to cover condo legal fees.

In an unusual move, the Civil Resolution Court ordered condo owner James Graham to pay the $13,000 legal bill Strata received for suing the $800 smoking fines.

According to an Aug. 11 civil resolution court ruling, Strata Plan BCS2438 took Graham to online court in an attempt to get him to quit smoking marijuana and cigarettes in his apartment.

Surrey Strata also sought an order for Graham to pay the $800 fines she imposed on him.

The ruling said one of Graham’s neighbors filed more than 20 complaints about Graham’s smoking with strata.

Neighbors said smoke rushed into his flat, making some rooms unbearable.

Over the course of a year, the neighbor had recorded more than 260 times the smell permeating her accommodation.

Strata responded and over time issued smoking fines totaling $800.

Graham denies smoking in his apartment and says the stratum has not proven he does.

However, Strata points to several emails that Graham sent to Strata. In an email, he said he bought an air purifier and agreed to quit smoking. He also included a doctor’s note stating that he needed to smoke weed for medical reasons.

In another email, he refused to take action to seal his apartment and said he would vacate the property before smoking.

Along with the Strata’s smoking investigations, the Tribunal said the emails were an acknowledgment that Graham smoked in his condo.

The Court then ordered Graham to pay the $800 in fines for smoking.

READ MORE: BC Strata spent $22,000 on lawyers and loses lawsuit over inflatable hot tub

Layers also argued that her legal costs should be covered by Graham.

The Civil Resolution Court awards court costs only in exceptional circumstances.

However, the Tribunal found this case to be a perfect fit.

“Here, even though the dispute was not particularly complex…the parties’ submissions were lengthy and there was a considerable volume of evidence,” the court ruled. “Overall, given … the degree of involvement of attorneys for both parties and the volume of evidence, I find that extraordinary circumstances exist here giving rise to reimbursement.”

The diapers submitted attorney bills for $18,988.

The Court then assessed the amount of the legal bill that Graham would have to pay.

The Tribunal said that although the case was not complex, the stratum’s legal counsel had specialist knowledge of the disputes between the strata.

However, the Court found that some of the attorney’s bills were unreasonable.

“The March 30, 2022 invoice for $8,635.68 was largely for the review and organization of strata evidence and the drafting of strata written submissions. Overall, I find the amount of this invoice is not proportional to the amount at issue in the dispute,” the Tribunal said.

The Tribunal cut this bill in half, deciding that $4,000 was sufficient.

Another invoice was presented for $3,368.

“I also find that the amount of this invoice is not commensurate with the amount at issue in this dispute,” the Tribunal decided that $1,500 was a more appropriate amount.

Graham also argued that his legal costs should be covered, but the court ruled against it.

In the end, Graham was ordered to pay the fines of $800 for smoking plus legal fees for a total of $13,336.

READ MORE: Kelowna dog owner wins legal battle with strata over barking

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