London

City of London denies allegations of contract fixing in forestry department

Court filings from the City of London in a $31 million civil lawsuit deny allegations from London, Ont.,-based CLC Tree Services that city officials have fixed city forestry contracts in favour of Davey Tree Expert for years.

A $31 million lawsuit alleges Davey Tree Expert has won every city contract since 2003, except one

A staff member with CLC Tree Services trims an oak tree in a London, Ont., neighbourhood. The company is suing the city and Davey Tree Expert for $31 million, alleging city forestry contracts have been fixed in Davey's favour for years. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Lawyers for the city of London deny allegations that officials have fixed forestry contracts in favour of Davey Tree Expert for years, according to recently filed court documents in a $31 million dollar civil suit.

The allegations in the lawsuit, filed in a Toronto court on Jan. 26, by London, Ont.,-based CLC Tree Services, have yet to be tested before a judge. 

CLC Tree Services alleges Davey has had a virtual monopoly on all city forestry contracts for years thanks to preferential treatment from the city's forestry department. 

Court filings for CLC Tree Services allege that preferential treatment is based on a close personal friendship between Andrew Beaton, a former Davey employee who is currently the city's manager of forestry, and Timothy Holley, the man who took Beaton's job when he left to work for city hall.

CLC Tree services is a London, Ont.,-based forestry company that has accused the city and Davey Tree Expert of fixing city forestry contracts in Davey's favour. City officials deny the charge. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

The plaintiff claims Davey Tree Expert has received all forestry work and consulting contracts from the city since 2003, "with only one exception."

CLC seeks $15 million in general damages, $16 million in punitive damages and a court order against the city, restraining it from granting or extending contracts for forestry work without first calling for public tenders. 

In a statement of defence recently filed in a Toronto court by London's city solicitor's office, city hall lawyers argue the defendants acted reasonably and in good faith and that there is no basis for the city or Davey to pay damages.

Court filings by city lawyers claim the true reason CLC Tree Services failed to win city contracts is they often fail to submit proposals and in the few situations where the company did, the city argues, CLC lacked the staff, training, equipment and skills to complete the work. 

In terms of the alleged conspiracy between Beaton and Holley, the city claims the allegation of preferential treatment for Davey in city hall contracts is purely speculative and without factual basis. 

City lawyers also argue that in order for the plaintiff to have a valid argument under the Competition Act, CLC Tree Services would have to be a competitor with Davey Tree Expert. "[The defendants] deny they are competitors with Davey Tree Expert."

In its statement of defence, the city solicitor's office is asking the suit be dismissed with costs. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca

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