Bill Gray’s lawyers have some tough decisions as they sort through about 60,000 documents in the hands of a supervising lawyer appointed by Durham Regional Court in Oshawa. So far only a sampling of about 250 have been included in court files in courthouses in Durham and London.
The judge for the case has given the lawyers until next week to come to him with a list of documents they want returned from the files turned over by whistleblower Norman Bourdeau. Donald Good, lawyer for Svante Lind, wants Bourdeau’s documents for the lawsuits he has filed against L.H. Gray and Son Ltd., Burnbrae Farms Ltd. and the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board.
The dilemma for Gray’s lawyers is that if they ask for the return of documents, they run the risk that they will be accused of hiding evidence. Bourdeau is an intervenor in the case and might have some helpful information for the judge. If Gray’s lawyers are, indeed, hiding pertinent evidence, they risk discipline by the Law Society.
On the other hand, if they allow all of the pertinent documents into the court case, their client’s dirty laundry will be exposed for all to see, and Gray, Burnbrae and the egg board will be hard-pressed to explain themselves.
If all of the pertinent documents are allowed into court, Gray and Burnbrae and the egg board better hustle to strike an out-of-court settlement with Lind, else big-city media that have so far ignored this case will have a hey-day besmirching the reputation of the two egg graders, the egg board and supply management.
Meanwhile, Gray and Burnbrae face additional challenges. The federal competition bureau is pondering what to do with evidence that:
- Gray and Hudson exchanged e-mails about keeping secret the degree of discounts Hudson’s Burnbrae Farms offered Shopper’s Drug Mart. In one e-mail from Gray to a Burnbrae executive, he worried that Loblaws would find out and would demand similar deep discounts and that might trigger discount demands by other clients across Eastern Canada.
- The two companies have made huge payments to big supermarket chains to achieve exclusive supplier status. The deals prevent competitors from getting a foot in the door.
- The two, whose companies grade more than 90 per cent of Ontario’s eggs, discussed pricing.
Gray is spending a small fortune in legal fees to try to shut down Bourdeau, including:
- an injunction gained in Superior Court in London to keep Bourdeau from sharing his documents with anybody. That would include several police forces, the Competition Bureau, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission and the Farm Products Council of Canada.
- threats of civil litigation and criminal sanctions.
- a lawsuit claiming $15 million.
- efforts to quash Bourdeau’s counterclaims for damages.
- several attempts to have Bourdeau cited for contempt of court.
Last October, Gray re-organized his company, transferring at least $5.4 million worth of assets from L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. to Gray Ridge Inc. It might be construed as an attempt to protect assets from court actions. It’s not clear whether the transfer of assets includes about $150 million worth of egg quota.