Northwest BC dog seizure case could result in settlement

Dog owner suing regional district for expenses after it failed to get order to destroy the animal

A SETTLEMENT conference has been set for a civil case of a dog owner claiming expenses from a court action in which the regional district asked for an order of destruction for the canine and lost.

The settlement conference between Paul MacNeil and the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and several of its employees has been set for Jan. 20 of next year or as soon after that date as is possible at the law courts here.

The idea behind the conference is to see if the two sides can come to an agreement or if that’s not possible, to prepare their cases for trial, according to details on the settlement conference notice.

I don’t see any reason why the parties couldn’t have discussions prior to the settlement conference to see if we [could] come to agreement on anything,” said Ken Anderson, lawyer for MacNeil.

On Sept. 26, MacNeil filed a notice of claim to recover some of his legal costs, naming the regional district and several of its employees in seeking $25,000 spent in successfully preventing the regional district from obtaining the order to destroy Cane, MacNeil’s German shepherd.

The action against the regional district also alleged that Marcellin said MacNeil was entitled to compensation but there was no followup and a promised written report on the whole matter was never provided.

The regional district’s reply was filed Oct. 24 and said “there is no cause of action for legal fees and disbursements incurred in a separate action…the proper course for the claimant would have been to request costs in the legal proceeding regarding the application for the destruction of the claimant’s dog…”

The reply also said “The defendants … say that at all material times they were employees of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and were acting in the performance of their duties as employees.

As such, they are immune from liability in this action…,” the reply continued.

In the reply, it said Marcellin “specifically denies that he made any offer or promise to the claimant that the regional district would financially compensate him for the handling of the claimant’s dog on Feb. 28, 2013. However, he admits he asked the claimant how the regional district might made amends for the sedation of the dog on that day.”

In April 2012, police seized Cane from MacNeil’s home after receiving a call that he had bit a child. Cane was first placed in the Terrace shelter as the Thornhill Animal Shelter wasn’t open and later moved to the Thornhill shelter.

It took nearly a year for the destruction order attempt to get to trial, culminating Feb. 28 of this year when, after two days of testimony, the judge determined that none of the conditions to declare the dog dangerous had been satisfied.

All parties must attend the settlement conference, have authority to settle the claim and may bring a lawyer or articled student with them, said the notice.

All relevant documents must be brought to the conference by the parties involved.

If someone fails to attend, the judge may dismiss the claim, make a payment order or another appropriate order against the party who fails to attend.

Regional district administrator Bob Marcellin declined to comment as did regional district lawyer Lamour Afonso of Municipal Insurance Association of BC.