A window manufacturer in Woodbridge has been ordered to pay thousands in costs and damages after trying to “bully” a client who wrote negative reviews online with a lawsuit.
Canadian Thermo Windows Inc. has been ordered to pay $166,687 to a couple it tried to sue for defamation over a series of negative reviews, Blacklock’s Reporter reported.
“In my view, the plaintiffs brought this lawsuit to bully the defendants into removing their reviews from the internet,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Fred Myers wrote in his ruling.
Myers said customer reviews are “a matter of public interest” and the company sought “to control the public narrative” with the defamation suit.
The company launched the lawsuit last year after the couple, who purchased 14 windows and a sliding door from the company, had alleged faulty workmanship online, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
The couple countered by filing a court motion under Ontario’s Protection of Public Participation Act, commonly referred to as the SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) Act , to allow the defendants to ask a judge to dismiss a case if the alleged libel involved “an expression made by the person that relates to a matter of public interest.”
“And when the defendants came forward with an obvious answer to the claim based on clear precedents, the plaintiffs folded like a cheap suit,” Myers wrote.
“The plaintiffs sell their goods to the retail public,” Myers said. “Discussion among the consuming public of the quality of the plaintiff’s goods and services is a matter of public interest.”
In making its case, Canadian Thermo Windows told the court the negative reviews cost the company business.
While recognizing that the purpose of the negative reviews was to “impair” the company’s reputation, Myers said the has received negative reviews in the past and “the plaintiffs’ business has endured.”
Canadian Thermo Windows was ordered to pay $164,187 in costs and $2,500 in damages.