January 29, 2016 - 9:00 PM
BAND LAWYER SAYS WFN ISN'T LIABLE IN LAWSUIT FOR $1.4 MILLION
WESTBANK FIRST NATION - The fallout for band members from the failed Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre could be a lot higher than $8 million as a contract architect for the project is suing the band for unpaid bills.
Westbank First Nation has been named in a $1.4 million civil claim by Kasian Architects, a Canadian firm that says it’s owed the money for professional architectural and consulting engineer services it provided early on in the hospital project.
This suit comes on top of the $8.05 million the band has already been forced to spend to pay off a mortgage attached to the 15-acre property overlooking Okanagan Lake.
Originally filed in September 2014 and updated in 2015, the suit also names Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre and Ad Vitam Health Care, a partner with the band directed by Mark McLoughlin and Lyle Oberg specifically to develop the hospital project.
The two former Alberta men were to raise $150 million venture capital funding needed to realize construction. The land lease pledged by the band was used as collateral for a mortgage loan of $15 million, which was in turn used as seed money by the two men.
In a statement of facts submitted in its suit, Kasian says it began design work in 2012 before running into problems when it submitted two invoices totalling $1,387,000 for services rendered during September 2013. The invoices went unpaid and immediately began accruing annual interest of 24 per cent, the suit claims.
In addition, Kasian is seeking damages, costs and the contract interest rate of 24 per cent per year.
The civil claim was filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. Vancouver registry, Sept. 14, 2015. No judgement has been made and the statements of the petitioner have not been proven in court.
Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie did not respond to a request for an interview, however the band provided a statement from its legal cousel Kevin Kingston.
"WFN and other defendants have been named in a lawsuit commenced by Kasian, but WFN clearly has no liability to Kasian as it was never responsible as general partner for the administration of the affairs of the Lake Okanagan Wellness Center Limited Partnership, and did not contract directly with Kasian at any point,” Kingston writes.
"Kasian has taken no further steps against WFN since commencing the lawsuit. The clear inference to be drawn there is that the lawsuit was a machine gun approach toward all parties who may be potentially liable to protect limitation dates, etc., but as indicated, WFN can have no liability for the contractual obligations entered into by the LOWC LP's general partner, AdVitam Healthcare Ltd."
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