Had I known the full ramifications of riding across Canada in support of our veterans, had I known it was going to cost me so much personally, or exactly what I was going to face, I sure would have done things differently – but, hindsight is always 20/20!
Then Ray Sasseville, Joan Hansen and Sturgis North sued me along with 6 other people.
They claimed slander, libel and defamation.
I was angry, incredulous and determined.
The ensuing 4 months, from December 21st/22nd when I was served until March 30th or there about, were filled with; myself, a research assistant and a friend going through hundreds and thousands of emails, creating timelines, organizing all data and letters in a chronological time frame. To say it was exhausting is putting it mildly.
Add to that sales of ads for the Rider Friendly Phone Book
, dealing with advertisers who broke their contract and held the book up for 5-6 weeks, and then a motorcycle crash, getting to know the IOMC and the ruckus that caused with folks in the US 1% circle and I feel like I have been under siege all year long.
The phone book being held up was costly in more ways than one as I had to air freight the books in. It also upset riders who bought books and has caused me to return to going to layout in December and January and to print in February – that means changing marketing materials and book keeping but it also means that the book will go out to purchasers in a timely fashion and that the app and download version will also be up in a timely fashion.
My trip this summer was a muted one. I spent many nights on the couches, airbeds and in spare rooms of good friends and family in Alberta and BC. Without my friends and family, I could not have continued to do my job. You are too numerous to mention, but I hope you know how deeply I thank you for your support, friendship and love.
This whole Sturgis North lawsuit is a fiasco. NOTHING about this lawsuit is typical; first they issue a shotgun lawsuit where in they sue the City of Sicamous, the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor of Sicamous, Steve Hammer of Summer Stomp, Bernie Aubin of the Headpins, Vince Lewis and myself.
In late March, an offer to settle is given to the first 6 defendants, basically the offer said; “if you don’t charge for costs and we’ll go away”. I too got an offer to settle but the offer to settle with me was much different. They wanted me to remove all reference to their names, in the newspaper and web sites, promise to never utter their names and post a $250K bond – oh and monitor social media to ensure no one in my circle said anything bad about them.
My attorney and I drafted a counter offer to settle that clearly laid out that all of the complaints – A- K, that were filed against me were non slanderous/libelous nor were they defaming. We wanted to wait to send it until the other 6 cases were rubber stamped through the courts as dealt with.
Then Gerhard Pyper, the lawyer for Sturgis North, Ray Sasseville and Joan Hansen is suspended. We waited and waited to see where the other 6 cases were in the court system.
While we were in this holding pattern, I got a second offer to settle via Ray’s new lawyer, Gregg Alfonso which stated that:
I would like to settle this dispute amicably with you and move forward, withdraw the lawsuit and concentrate on the Motorcycling Community as a whole. Your past postings have been criticizing me for leaving a wave of destruction re creditors from past events. Even though it puzzles me why you went to such great extents to involve my family I have heard and understood the message. I take full responsibility on behalf of Sturgis North as its CEO re the past debts that are outstanding and will try my hardest to satisfy those debts albeit a little at a time. I apologize to all debtors and ask that they give me a chance to satisfy the debts which has been my intention all along. My only intention ever has been to put on an event for the Motorcycling community to be able to meet, share experience and enjoy great music and each others company. I chose to continue to put on the best festival possible in order to maintain our goal for the Motorcycling Community and pay down past debts on a timely basis as opposed to walking away and not attempting to take care of our obligations. I truly you believe you have the best interests of the creditors and Motorcycling community at heart and would like to see the creditors paid back therefore I am willing to offer the following.
- The letter of apology to the creditors for you to post if you wish not mentioning any blame on your part re your articles
- I have set up a trust fund with my Lawyer Gregg Alfonso with Alfonso Law Corp to collect and pay to the creditors on a prorated basis at the end of the festival a percentage of our online ticket sales annually. This will ensure that monies are distributed each year regardless of what the festival makes because this is not based on profits. Your lawyer will be informed of the details
- Obviously since this whole thing was about your interpretation of my character and the fact that you want the creditors paid I will need help to market my festival so the creditors will get paid back annually until paid upon agreed invoicing amounts. Thus you will achieve the main goal which was making me accointable and getting the creditors paid.
- I am willing to pay you $1000 for advertisig on your weekly editions up to the festival
- I am willing to give you 30 4 day all event passes for you to sell to some of your 75,000 readers who will purchase them from you once they see this has been setllrd and you can keep the monies $310 per 4 day event pass ticket which totals a tad over $9000 which when added with the advertising money will get you out of debt with your lawyer.
I had some tough questions to ask myself. Clearly Ray blames me for why the riding community was not embracing his event. Clearly we had all heard before that a fund would be set up to pay vendors etc., but nothing seemed to materialize. Clearly Ray wants to hold me accountable for why people won’t get paid if I don’t take his deal. BUT - Could I promote someone who was suing me? Could I possibly want to tie my name to their event anymore than I already had with sponsorship in 2011 and 12?
In all good conscience, I could not and so, I chose to pass on this offer to settle and my lawyer sent in my first counter offer, albeit redrafted to the new attorney and geared towards the second offer to settle as opposed to the first.
To date I have not heard from the good folks at Sturgis North/Canada, Ray Sasseville and Joan Hansen regarding my counter offer.
I attended Sturgis Canada; I experienced the small attendance, the disorganization and some of the politics of the 2014 version of the event first hand. I reported on the event in as professional and level headed manner as is possible and have left it to the attendees who were unhappy, the booking agent, Keith Sharp, the band manager Ted VanBoort, the hotelier who said he hadn’t been paid and the Royal Canadian Legion who say they don’t think they will get paid, to say their piece on Facebook, in the Merritt Herald and in my blog through screen captures.
Now I get a letter from my lawyer that states that the 6 other cases have NOT gone through the court the way they were supposed to and that only one of the consent to dismiss orders were ever filed. So in effect, the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce, Steve Hammer, Bernie Aubin and Vince Lewis along with myself, are all right back to where we were.
He has also advised me that we are pushing on to a change of venue application to get the case moved to Salmon Arm. This is going to be an expensive undertaking, getting the case moved. It means my lawyer going to the courthouse in Surrey and meeting with a judge.
I am advised I will need to prepare for a $7-10K bill for that alone, not to mention the $2,100 I owe him at the moment.
I have been getting a lot of comments from people about countersuing the group, it may come to that, although I am advised there isn’t anything of any substance to attach to and that it could get costlier than the $50K it is slated to cost to see this thing through.
Besides, I am one in a long list of people who would be going after assets. Michael Smith has a $70,000 judgment and then there is the BC Securities hearing in October and the Arizona Lawsuit that has been going on for ages that will go to trial in 2015. There really is nothing to gain in trying to counter sue – I would get a piece of paper saying I am owed and that paper would be worthless.
Folks, I need your help if I am going to succeed. The time and focus this court case has taken away from the business side of what I do has been telling and has hurt me financially and reputation wise – people don’t like it when you miss deadlines.
So far this community, has helped me pay my lawyers bill and I am asking you to keep that support coming. I have hired two sales people and with their help and perhaps the help of a few more, the business end of things will get righted shortly.
I need to keep my attention, as much as possible on the business; I need to get rid of some of the worry about paying the lawyer… I have to swallow my pride and ask…
Please consider donating to my Defense Fund
or buying a tee shirt for my Offence Fund
, which is what I now prefer to call it.
On top of all of those challenges I have had 6 friends pass away, and that was/is hard to deal with. My hubby going through an MS attack was another toughie I have had to endure.
But as in all things life, a ray of sunshine always presents itself…
I became a great aunty twice in the space of 10 days, I have a new great niece and a great nephew!
Those two wonderful occasions have brought new life to this very tired spirit, as did the friends and family who helped me to accomplish my sales and reporting trip.
To those who propped me up while I was struggling to deal with death after death, and frustration after frustration, there are no words to express my gratitude.
I am not sure what these various trials and tribulations are preparing me for, but man I am ready for the tides to turn.
Our Canada’s Most Rider Friendly Community Contest is shaping up nicely, our Spot the Gear Fail
contest has just kicked off and is offering great prizes from Kimpex
and Draggin Jeans
and we are getting ready to launch our newest Rider Survey!
Our 2015 Beat the PMS Blues Online Show N Shine is also beginning to take shape with Big Blue
coming on board as a major sponsor and I have about a dozen advertising proposals to build.
I know that with the help of this community we are going to go on to bigger and better things and I promise you all this much, I will continue to pay forward every kindness and helping hand I get to all of the charities and the riding clubs who support them through free promotion and marketing…
To donate to my Defence Fund: CLICK HERE
If you are blessed enough to be riding today, please remember to ride like everyone around you is blind and cannot see you and please consider wearing good gear.
Belt Drive Betty
Editor & Rider