Orange files defence statement in lawsuit

Orange files defence statement in lawsuit A local IT company says it's not guilty of defamation, because claims it made about Northwestel's services are true.

A local IT company says it’s not guilty of defamation, because claims it made about Northwestel’s services are true.

Last month, Northwestel filed a lawsuit against Orange Technology and its co-owner, Martin Lehner, for comments made during a November interview on CBC Radio. Orange Technology filed its statement of defence in Yukon Supreme Court on Feb. 10.

In the statement, Lehner and his company “deny each and every allegation” made against them by Northwestel.

According to the lawsuit, Lehner told the CBC that one of his clients has an Internet connection that “goes out between three to six minutes about a dozen times a day on average.” He also said the company has clients in the McRae area who have “regular outages every single day.” He said they’d been told by Northwestel that there are no plans to fix the problem.

Lehner was arguing that the redundant fibre-optic line planned for the Dempster Highway will not resolve all of the Yukon’s Internet problems.

Northwestel alleges that most of Lehner’s statements are untrue and that Lehner knew they were false. The company says the interview was defamatory because it “discredits Northwestel by suggesting that it is unresponsive to complaints made by its clients,” exposes the company to “contempt or ridicule” and damages Northwestel’s business.

But in its statement of defence, Orange Technology argues the statements are not defamatory because they “refer solely to Northwestel’s goods and services” and because they are true.

The IT company also denies that Lehner was implying that Northwestel is unresponsive to complaints.

If that defence fails, the company will argue that the innuendos in Lehner’s statements are fair comments. Under that defence, the company would have to show that the statements were an opinion based on facts, that the issue is a matter of public interest and that there was no malice underlying the comments.

Orange Technology also denies any improper motive in making the statements. The company is asking that the claim be dismissed.