Calgary city councillor Druh Farrell has signalled she is ramping up her legal fight with the Terrignos, the high-profile restaurateurs and developers who have filed two lawsuits against the incumbent councillor now running for re-election.
That Farrell has had enough is made clear in a bluntly worded application filed Tuesday that seeks to have the lawsuits tossed out immediately, or at the very least gutted before Calgary's municipal election on Oct. 16.
"The only purpose, it is submitted, for filing the [lawsuits] is to interfere with Councillor Farrell's ability to run for public office by casting a pall over her candidacy, by improperly using the legal process and by intimidating her from running for public office," states an application filed in court Tuesday by lawyer Munaf Mohamed.
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Mohamed also previously represented Mayor Naheed Nenshi in his often publicly acrimonious lawsuit with developer Cal Wenzel. That lawsuit was settled after Nenshi issued an apology.
The application claims the two lawsuits against Farrell both relate to a failed land use application by Terrigno Investments.
In May 2017, the Terrigno family sued Farrell, claiming she used her position as a councillor to kill a 10-storey tower the family wanted to build on the corner of 10th Street and Kensington Road N.W., where they had operated their Osteria de Medici restaurant.
"Were it not for the financial interest, dishonesty, targeted malice, bad faith conduct and inherent bias of the defendant, the land-use application would have been approved," the lawsuit claimed.
Second lawsuit filed
In September 2017, the Terrignos filed a second lawsuit in which they sought to stop Farrell from using the city's indemnity fund to pay her legal costs.
The application accuses the Terrignos of using legal action against anyone who opposed, or didn't adequately support, their development.
"Using the legal process to intimidate appears to be part of the applicants' standard arsenal of business practices," states the application, which then lists lawsuits brought by the Terrignos against their own architect and the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association.
Farrell's application to strike the lawsuits states that both actions rely on only two facts: that Farrell had a financial interest in a matter which she supported at council and that the city's indemnification policy, which was amended on March 14, 2016 to cover council members, was in place before the Terrignos initially sued her.
Farrell, in Tuesday's application, says she had no financial interest in the matter and the only evidence brought by the lawsuit claim was the proximity of her house to the proposed land development, "an interest councillor Farrell has in common with every homeowner in the neighbourhood."
As for the indemnification policy, Farrell says it has been in effect since 1977. In any case, the Terrignos in their second lawsuit don't specifically claim Farrell is accessing the indemnity fund nor do they offer any evidence to support their allegations.
"Taken together, these deficiencies make it highly unlikely that the applicants will succeed in this action," the application states.
The application takes particular aim at an affidavit sworn by the family's patriarch Rocco Terrigno, portions of which were entered into the court file in support of the second lawsuit. Farrell asks the court to strike nearly a dozen paragraphs from the affidavit because she says they contain information that is "frivolous, irrelevant or improper."
Farrell says the affidavit relies on "selective excerpts" from an audio recording with Jeff Angel, who the affidavit alleges is a former Farrell campaign administrator. And she says that in fairness, the Terrignos must produce the entire transcript of the recording "so that the court may base its determination upon complete information rather than half-truths and partial information selected by the applicants."
Farrell further asks the court to order Rocco Terrigno to immediately submit to questioning about his affidavit, apparently knowing that is unlikely to happen.
Hearing could be held this week
"Mr. Terrigno, unlike other members of his family, is not currently in Calgary but in Rome," the application states. "This was, presumably, a strategic choice on the part of the applicants and the costs associated with Mr. Terrigno's attendance at questioning should be borne by the applicants."
Farrell says any delay in hearing her application "plays into the hands of the applicants by allowing them to use the litigation process as a means to influence the election. The most appropriate way to address this misuse of the judicial process is for the court to reach a determination in this matter well before the election."
It's expected the hearing will be held before week's end.
None of the allegations contained in any of the lawsuits or applications has been proven in court.
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