[box type=”default” size=”large”] Publisher says she lost suit on technicality, will appeal case [/box]
TORONTO – On July 13, 2016, Judge Sidney Lederman of the Superior Court of Justice ruled in favor of Ontario Senator Tobias C. Enverga Jr. in a defamation lawsuit the senator had filed against Balita Media Inc. and publisher Tess Cusipag.
The suit arose from allegedly false and defamatory remarks published about an alleged fraud related to fundraising efforts on behalf of the Kalayaan Cultural Community Centre (KCCC) in 2000.
In an email, Cusipag said her lawyers are working on her appeal. She said she had lost the case on technicality.”
The judge awarded Senator Enverga general and aggravated damages, in addition to punitive damages and a permanent injunction against the publisher and her company to publish/broadcast, or assist or encourage others to publish/broadcast, any statements about the issues related to the senator’s role in KCCC fundraising, the charitable status of the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation (PCCF) and the senator being a biological and pathological liar.
In the judgment, Justice Lederman wrote in part: “In the end, the defendants have no reliable evidence to prove the truth of the $6,000 fraud allegation or the PCCF donation/tax credit allegation. In fact, Cusipag admitted on discovery that it is not true that Senator Enverga committed a fraud in relation to fund raising activities and that the PCCF allegations are false.”
“An award of punitive damages is necessary in this case. The defendants, and in particular Cusipag, have done virtually everything she could to destroy and discredit Senator Enverga in an unrelenting manner … They engaged in absolutely no investigation whatsoever as to the truth of what they were publishing. They were recklessly indifferent to the truth of the article … At no time has there been any retraction or apology given. Cusipag vows to continue to make defamatory statements against the plaintiff (Senator Enverga) and has shown no interest in stopping her efforts or refraining from misconduct.
“In 2010, after Senator Enverga was elected as a Catholic school board trustee, he arrived late to a press event held by Cusipag (Senator Enverga went to a wake for a friend). She published a warning to Senator Enverga. ‘First off is to respect the press who can wield its power to make or break you.’ In the article and on her Facebook page, she is fulfilling the threat that she made against the plaintiff in 2010 that she would destroy him,” the judge said.
The judgment is clear on the motivation of the Balita publisher, stating that “Cusipag was motivated by malice. She obviously holds a deep-seated resentment towards Senator Enverga. She used his comments to the Philippine press as a springboard to vent her unfounded allegations in the published article and her Facebook to intentionally besmirch Senator Enverga’s reputation in the Filipino-Canadian community.”
After receiving a copy of the decision, Enverga’s counsel, Howard W. Winkler, told the senator, “The decision is a complete vindication of your reputation. The decision is a complete indictment of Ms. Cusipag.”
“I am relieved by the court’s decision on this matter,” said Senator Enverga. “This is a victory for the community,” he added.
In arguing that she lost the case on technicality, Cusipag said “the guy who wrote the story suffered a stroke weeks after he received a copy of Enverga’s lawsuit. He eventually died, and his contact, Mama Ching, also died.”
Cusipag also said, “Enverga made the move and filed a motion to pin it on me without a trial. I thought he would stop right there because of the death of Carlos. We were caught unprepared. We found another credible witness, Willie Cantos, but was not allowed by the court to testify because the case had already passed the discovery portion. Balita and myself were ordered through a permanent injunction not to talk about the $6,000, KCCC and PCCF…”