Lawyer Alison Webster has lost her bid to keep documents in
the lawsuit against her egg-grading client, L.H. Gray and Son Ltd., sealed away
from the public.
Justice J. Kitely issued his decision this week,
over-turning an earlier court ruling by Master Thomas Hawkins that sealed the
documents so nobody from the public could take a look.
Kitely’s reasons will be issued soon.
Webster has consistently tried to keep information away from
reporters and the public, but has failed to keep the nub of the issues secret.
Sweda Farms Ltd. is accusing Gray of cheating on egg grades,
resulting in a move by the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board to allege
that Sweda was being too strict in its grading of eggs from its
farmer-suppiers. The egg board noted that the majority of farm eggs resulted in
a higher percentage of Grade A eggs, but if Gray and Burnbrae Farms Ltd. were
both cheating on grading, as Sweda alleges, then it’s they and not Sweda who
are at fault.
The egg board forced Sweda to pay more levies on the basis
that it had not properly graded eggs. It also let Sweda’s suppliers know and
Sweda alleges that Burnbrae found out and aggressively canvassed its suppliers
to switch from Sweda to Burnbrae.
Sweda also alleges that Burnbrae, Gray and the egg board
conspired to thwart Sweda’s applications to import eggs when there were
shortages on the Ontario market.
Burnbrae has convinced a judge to dismiss all the charges
against it. That decision is under appeal.
Webster tried the same dismissal tactic on behalf of Gray, but failed in both the
initial court decision and a recent appeal.
Among the sealed documents is a treasure trove of electronic
files that Norman Bourdeau, then the information technology officer for Gray,
copied from the company’s computer.
Those files are under court protection of a Kitchener lawyer
appointed to be the custodian.
Once it becomes clear how much information from those files
will be allowed as evidence in the lawsuit, it’s likely that it will either
proceed to trial or an out-of-court settlement.
That’s likely to take until next year.