Little Paws boss defamed landlords, ordered by courts to pay $80,000

The former director of Little Paws daycare was ordered last Thursday by a Yukon Supreme Court judge to pay $80,000 in damages for defaming the defunct business's landlords.

The former director of Little Paws daycare was ordered last Thursday by a Yukon Supreme Court judge to pay $80,000 in damages for defaming the defunct business’s landlords.

Andrew Robulack, 37, expects the order will plunge him into personal bankruptcy, and that, as a result, this coming winter will be the first one he will have spent in his 14 years residing in Whitehorse without a car.

And it will prove challenging to raise his five-year-old son after having shed his assets.

He now describes his decision to launch a public campaign against the daycare’s landlords, David and Stanley Borud, as “unfortunate.”

And expensive.

But the damages are considerably less than the $120,000 that the Borud brothers demanded in their statement of claim as compensation for the damage they suffered to their personal and professional reputations during the scandal.

The daycare, months behind in rent payments, was closed in December, leaving about 15 daycare workers and nearly 50 parents scrambling to find other daycare centres on short notice.

During this time, Robulack made defamatory comments about the Boruds in an open letter to Glenn Hart, the minister responsible for daycares. The letter was printed in edited form in both of the Yukon’s newspapers and published unedited on Robulack’s blog.

This damage was deemed to be compounded by Robulack’s failure to promptly apologize. At first, he only offered an apology after he was demanded to do so, and on the condition that no court action be taken. These delays diminished the effect of the apology, the Boruds’ lawyer argued.

In court affidavits, the Boruds maintain that they have had difficulty renting the building that housed the daycare because of the scandal. The Yukon territorial government considered renting the space, they state, but instead chose “another building that was subject to less negative publicity.”

Robulack insists the scandal has hurt his business, too. It’s been difficult for him to secure contracts in recent months, he said.

“My reputation was tarnished as well,” he said.

He became director of the daycare only eight months before the nonprofit’s closure, with the hope of fixing the organization’s financial woes.

Robulack could not afford a lawyer. He represented himself during the early motions of court, but he soon gave in and did not bother to file a statement of defence.

He’s now counting on people to be “forgiving and forgetful,” and says he is looking forward to a “fresh start.”

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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