Hamilton

'Bully boy tactics': Harvest Picnic founder ordered to pay legal fees

A Hamilton judge has ordered the founder of The Harvest Picnic festival to pay over $18,000 in legal fees to people he was attempting to sue for millions of dollars.

Organizer Jean-Paul Gauthier told to pay $18K in legal fees for people he was trying to sue

Harvest Picnic and Hamilton Music Awards founder Jean-Paul Gauthier has been ordered to pay the legal fees for the people he was trying to sue for millions of dollars. (Hamiltonmusicawards.com)

A Hamilton judge has ordered the founder of The Harvest Picnic festival to pay over $18,000 in legal fees to people he was attempting to sue for millions of dollars.

In a written ruling released on April 11, Justice Alan Whitten said that it was appropriate that some of the defendants in the case — the Feldman Agency, as well as Jann Arden and her management — have their costs covered after parts of the lawsuit were dismissed.

"This is especially so when a plaintiff pleads, as the plaintiff did in this case, for astronomical damages which had no relationship to the contracts which clearly defined the interaction between the parties," he wrote.

"Weak defendants might be intimidated by the amount claimed. Parties who adopt such bully boy tactics ... evidently attract costs consequences."

Other parts of the claim are still ongoing, but with possible damages now capped at under $100,000.

Harvest Picnic founder Jean-Paul Gauthier and his company September Seventh Entertainment was originally seeking almost $27 million in damages from the defendants.

Instead, Gauthier was ordered to pay the opposing legal team $18,480.74.

Many acts who played the last iteration of the Harvest Picnic still have not been paid. Country star Johnny Reid is suing September Seventh, seeking thousands of dollars in unpaid fees after last summer's festival.

Gauthier has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the issue. He did not yet responded to messages sent early Thursday morning.

In his decision, Justice Whitten also highly criticized Gauthier's claims for 60 hours of legal work, as he did not retain a lawyer and was representing himself.

"The hourly rate for Mr. Gauthier would be $125.00 per hour," Whitten wrote. "This was certainly a creative approach, perhaps of the same ilk that generated the astronomical damage figures in the Statement of Claim. "

"That being said, considering a complete lack of success and a clear wording of the performance contracts involved, any such request is for costs for the plaintiff's corporation is denied."

In the wake of the lawsuit Gauthier's other enterprise — the Hamilton Music Awards — have all but vanished, leaving virtually no hope that the awards show or its accompanying festival will happen in the city this year.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

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Adam Carter

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Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.