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Alberta landowner accused of shooting trespasser fights back against lawsuit

A rural Alberta landowner is fighting back after being hit with a lawsuit by the trespasser he's accused of shooting early last year.

Edouard Maurice has filed a statement of defence and counterclaim of $150K

Edouard Maurice, centre, speaks to reporters outside court while holding his daughter Teal as his wife, Jessica, looks on in Okotoks, Alta., on March 9, 2018. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

A rural Alberta landowner is fighting back after being hit with a lawsuit by the trespasser he's accused of shooting early last year.

Edouard Maurice, known as Eddie, has filed both a statement of defence and a counterclaim of $150,000 against Ryan Watson, one of two people Maurice found on his property near Okotoks, Alta., in February 2018.

Watson is suing Maurice for $100,000 for "emotional upset, severe fatigue and insomnia," after the incident, which left Watson requiring arm surgery. He's also claiming special damages including loss of income.

Maurice's statement of defence denies any liability for damages described in Watson's claim and a counterclaim is seeking damages for "mental distress, stress, anxiety and nightmares," for Maurice and his oldest daughter.

The landowner's counterclaim alleges Maurice's wife needed counselling and suffered a miscarriage and his family continues to suffer mental stress. Maurice is also seeking wages lost while fighting criminal charges in court.

Those charges were later dropped and Watson was convicted of mischief and breach of probation.

Counterclaim to send a message

Maurice has argued he fired two warning shots but not directly at the two trespassers.

In his suit, Watson says Maurice could have done something else to scare him off the property.

In his counterclaim, Maurice states an award would send a message to deter lawsuits like this.

Watson has not yet filed a statement of defence to the counterclaim and none of the claims have been proven in court. 

The original case sparked debate over how far landowners can go in defending property.