Shelly Cuthbert talks to media at her make-shift dog kennel along Atlin Road on Oct. 24. Justice Ron Veale dismissed Cuthbertճ $1-million defamation lawsuit following a brief hearing Jan. 21 after she failed to come up with $15,000 before a court-ordered deadline. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Judge dismisses Shelley Cuthbert’s defamation lawsuit after she fails to post $15k security

Cuthbert was not present in court during a brief hearing on Jan. 21

A Yukon Supreme Court judge has tossed dog rescue owner Shelley Cuthbert’s defamation lawsuit against her former Tagish Estate neighbours and two other women after she failed to come up with $15,000 before a court-ordered deadline.

Justice Ron Veale dismissed Cuthbert’s $1-million claim following a brief hearing Jan. 21.

Lawyers Graham Lang and Andre Roothman, who together represented nine defendants — Stefan and Ursula Angerer, Leopold and Edeltraud Selinger, Gerry McGraw, Stefan Landfried, Anne Middler, Emerald Gillespie and Lisa Gallant — had made applications for the lawsuit’s dismissal since Cuthbert had failed to post security of costs as of Dec. 31, 2018.

That deadline had been set in late November, when Veale ordered Cuthbert to post $15,000 before her lawsuit could proceed.

Cuthbert had sought damages for, among other things, “destruction of reputation, emotional distress and property damage which includes pain and suffering of the dogs.”

She was not present in court Jan. 21.

Instead, she had filed an affidavit Jan. 14 stating she was not informed about hearing dates and that due to a “family issue,” she would be unable to attend.

Cuthbert’s affidavit also says she has “no assets to sell to pay any amount of money to the courts” on account of being forced to move her dog rescue business from her Tagish Estates home following a successful nuisance lawsuit launched by six of her neighbours.

That lawsuit resulted in a court order for her to keep no more than two dogs at her property; instead of surrendering the majority of her 50-something animals, Cuthbert left Tagish and set up camp off Atlin Road.

“The court order has made it clear anyone who is poverty stricken does not have access to the civil court process, when (the courts) have ensured that their primary income was shut down,” she wrote.

However, in his submissions Jan. 21, Lang said he notified Cuthbert about the hearing in early January.

Cuthbert had not offered a valid reason for not posting security, Lang continued, nor did it appear that she would do so within a reasonable timeframe — her affidavit, he argued, showed “exactly the opposite.”

“This is the end of the road, I believe, for this particular matter,” he said, adding that the lawsuit had been a “retaliatory action from the outset” and was a “very weak claim.”

Veale found that Cuthbert had been “well aware” of the hearing and “really offered no hope” that she would post security.

He dismissed her lawsuit, awarding legal costs to the defendants.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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