Court orders Ikea monkey ‘mom’ to pay legal costs of $83K to primate sanctuary

Court orders Ikea monkey ‘mom’ to pay legal costs of $83K to primate sanctuary by The Canadian Press, January 17, 2014, Calgary Herald
An Ontario court has ordered the woman who calls herself the Ikea monkey’s “mom” to pay more than $80,000 to a primate sanctuary she sued. Yasmin Nakhuda lost ownership of Darwin the monkey after he escaped from her car in December 2012 at an Ikea store in Toronto. Animal services nabbed the monkey and sent him to Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont., who Nakhuda sued in an attempt to get Darwin back. An Ontario Superior Court judge ruled in September that the monkey is a wild animal, and based on case law that means Nakhuda lost ownership the minute Darwin made his great escape.

The court released a decision on costs today, ordering Nakhuda to pay the sanctuary and its owner $83,000, which is in addition to her own legal costs. Lawyer Kevin Toyne represented the sanctuary pro bono, but the court said it is still appropriate in some such cases for lawyers to get some reimbursement for their services from the losing side in a lawsuit. Cost awards are generally made directly to the party, in this case the sanctuary and its owner, and Toyne said whether all or some of that money is going to him is a confidential matter between him and his clients.

IKEA monkey ‘mom’ hit with $80,000 legal bill by Jeff Gray, January 17, 2014, The Globe and Mail
On Friday, Justice Vallee issued a costs ruling ordering Ms. Nakhuda to pay $83,077 for the legal bills of the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary and its property owner Sherri Delaney, who is also a senior police officer. Ms. Delaney’s lawyer, Kevin Toyne of Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP, was actually acting pro bono, but says it is not unusual for winning litigants with pro bono lawyers to seek costs. He had asked for $122,45.94 in costs, as well as $4,498.72 for “costs incurred by the defendants for hiring security for their premises, which they submit was necessary after they received certain threats, including a death threat to Ms. Delaney and a threat to burn down the premises,” according to Friday’s ruling.

Ms. Nakhuda‘s lawyer had argued that she should not have to cover the defendants’ costs, because Ms. Delaney was not poor, and because the defendants made “improper” allegations against Ms. Nakhuda that were “an effort to destroy” her reputation. Those allegations relate to e-mails obtained by the defendants, written by Ms. Nakhuda before the monkey escaped to a U.S. animal trainer, that described how she was having difficulties and how she tried to control her pet. “This involved grabbing the monkey by the throat and hitting him on the side of the head so that he would succumb and allow his diaper to be changed,” the judge wrote, dismissing Ms. Nakhuda’s arguments and ruling that the allegations of corporeal punishment made by the defendants, which were withdrawn before the trial, were not “vexatious” because they were based on these e-mails.

Ms. Nakhuda is appealing the order that Darwin stay in the sanctuary, and her case is expected to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal later this year.

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