Naheed Nenshi granted jury trial in Cal Wenzel's $6M defamation lawsuit

A judge granted Naheed Nenshi's request to allow a jury to hear a defamation lawsuit launched by a home builder against the mayor in a Calgary courtroom on Monday.

Home builder suing Calgary's mayor over comments during 2013 civic election

Calgary home builder Cal Wenzel, right, is suing Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi over comments he made during the 2013 municipal election. (CBC)

A judge granted Naheed Nenshi's request on Monday to allow a jury to hear a defamation lawsuit launched by a home builder against the mayor.

Cal Wenzel is suing Nenshi for comments made on CBC Radio during the 2013 municipal election campaign that he says insinuated he broke election laws and runs a mafia-like organization.

Wenzel says the remarks were untrue and damaged his reputation. He is seeking $6 million in damages.

On Monday, his lawyer Loran Halyn indicated Wenzel is abandoning his claim that he suffered financial harm due to Nenshi's statements.

Proceeding with that claim would require Wenzel to provide financial statements and outline the extent of his financial losses. 

Nenshi's lawyer Munaf Mohamed argued that the case meets the legal tests for a jury trial. Wenzel's lawyer argued that the case is "too complex" for a civil trial jury of six people to decide.

Straight-forward matter?

But Justice K.D. Yamauchi said in court that defamation matters "are not that complex" and ruled Nenshi's counsel had met the requirements for a jury trial, so he will allow it.

The two sides disagree on how long the case will take to hear.

Mohamed estimates it should take only 10 days or fewer for a jury to hear what he considers a straight forward matter, while Halyn estimates the trial could run as long as four weeks.

Nenshi has said politicians should be free to speak on public issues without the fear of being sued.

The mayor said he is paying his own legal bills on the matter.