British Columbia

Denture held hostage in fight between neighbours leaves B.C. man with bill from small claims court

A heated argument between neighbours that ended with one man's denture flying over the fence into the other's yard, never to be seen again, has landed in B.C. small claims court.

Neighbour wrongly refused to return dental device that fell out during argument across fence, tribunal says

Todd King's upper denture fell out and into Bob Bjerregaard's yard when the two men were fighting in May 2021. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

A heated argument between neighbours that ended with one man's denture flying over the fence into the other's yard, never to be seen again, has landed in B.C. small claims court.

On Tuesday, Bob Bjerregaard was ordered to pay his next-door neighbour $1,829 for a replacement and other costs after the Civil Resolution Tribunal found he took Todd King's fallen denture and refused to return it after their dispute on May 27, 2021.

The details of what happened that day are laid out in a decision from tribunal member Leah Volkers, who found that Bjerregaard had committed the tort of conversion against King by intentionally depriving him of his personal property. It does not specify where the neighbours live.

The argument between the two men began when Bjerregaard broke up a fight between King and a third neighbour, referred to by the initials TF in the tribunal decision.

King and Bjerregaard then began arguing over their shared fence, with TF looking on, the decision says. King told the tribunal that at some point, his upper denture came unstuck and fell into Bjerregaard's property.

"[King] says TF went to pick it up, but Mr. Bjerregaard stopped him. Mr. King says Mr. Bjerregaard picked up his denture and refused to return it," Volkers wrote.

"He says he called the police to retrieve the denture from Mr. Bjerregaard who denied having it."

No evidence about that police call was submitted to the tribunal, but King did include a letter he wrote to Bjerregaard on June 10 asking for his denture back.

3rd neighbour confirmed story

Bjerregaard has denied taking the false teeth. He argued he should not be responsible for the lost denture and that King was drunk during their fight.

Bjerregaard also said police searched his yard, but were unable to find the missing denture, and that they took King to jail that night. King has not denied being arrested, the decision says.

The piece of evidence that swayed the tribunal toward King's version of events was an affidavit signed by TF, whom Volkers describes as, "at the very least, a neutral witness" to events.

"TF says they tried to convince Mr. Bjerregaard to return the denture several times, but he refused. TF says they sent their wife to ask Mr. Bjerregaard for the denture but he refused to return it," the decision says.

Volkers points out that TF was standing in Bjerregaard's yard during the fight, where they would have had a clear vantage of the denture's trajectory. Secondly, TF's original argument was with King, not Bjerregaard, so it was "unlikely that TF would be dishonest in their evidence to favour Mr. King," the decision says.

King had asked for $3,480 for a replacement denture and $1,520 for pain and suffering. Volkers reduced that amount significantly, finding he only paid $1,500 for the new bridgework, and writing that she only saw evidence supporting $200 in damages.

Bjerregaard now has 28 days to file a notice of objection to the tribunal's decision.

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