HDI media release under question

SIX NATIONS – A public relations firm released on behalf of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) legal advisor Aaron Detlor and the HDI itself, a self-penned report on the class action suit filed against them seeking approval for their case to resume.

Men’s Fire members object to the strong impression left by the article that the class-action case they are working through the courts is “frivolous”, among other similar superlatives.

But there is a difference between a case being “adjourned” (to a later date) and being “dismissed”. Adjourned could also be described as postponed. The men are crying foul in what they see as an attempt to sway the public and the outside media away from the facts surrounding their class action.

However, if the case was dismissed rather than adjourned, neither the plaintiffs nor their lawyer Jeff Kaufman of Jeff Kaufman Law, know anything about it.

“It is not appropriate for council to talk about the merits of a case which is before the courts,” said Kaufman.

“This is an obvious attempt to counter what they believe is negative press being given to himself and the HDI, which he is legal advisor to, regarding a long list of community complaints,” said plaintiff Bill Monture.

Kaufman was taken aback when he was informed of the media release distributed by CNW public relations firm and quickly responded to Detlor’s seemingly involvement in the CNW release, with the HDI as its sole source.

“This article is false and defamatory,” said Haufman in a brief statement about the CNW article. “You had a duty to consult with opposing counsel before publication,” he added in a statement directed to Detlor’s lawyers.

According to former Men’s Fire lawyer James Brown, they were successful to get an order from the court to cross-examine Detlor and Elvera Garlow. That is where the case is currently situated as they await the only judge in the circuit that handles class actions to return from vacation.

The adjournment was to accommodate this judge’s scheduling and had no bearing on the merits of the case as was, as implied by Detlor.

“There was no comment made by the court,” says Haufman. “Any judge would know never to do that, and as a lawyer, Detlor should have known as well.”

CNW is a news blog specializing in paid-for public relations and corporate statements packaged to look like news. The articles are written by their clients who pay to have it posted and distributed far and wide, however it is not a news agency per se, in that they do not vet their published blogs nor do they investigate any claims made by their clients.

The submitted HDI release begins, “On April 26, 2017, Justice Andrew J. Goodman of the Ontario Superior Court adjourned a frivolous lawsuit for unfairly targeting the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI). The plaintiffs, two members of the Six Nations ‘Men’s Fire’, were ordered to pay HDI $3,500.00 in costs. This lawsuit is completely baseless and much of it appears erroneous. The costs awarded are a reflection of the judge’s concern with the plaintiffs’ case.”

This is the third request for an adjournment, [made by the plaintiffs], having changed legal representation in the case. The judge granted the adjournment, however, their former legal advisor missed an earlier court date, and it was because of that that a fine of $3,500 was imposed, and not due to any “serious concerns” as the HDI release reports, according to Kaufman.

“As far as the $3,500 fine is concerned this is nothing out of the ordinary when a party does not appear for a court date,” says Kaufman.

Kaufman lists a lot of things yet to be done before any judgement is made, including the cross examination of Detlor where he will be obligated to show evidence for his financial statements and actions he and the HDI have made to date in the name of the people of Six Nations, the Chiefs and Clan Mothers.

The next date is yet to be set pending the return and schedule of the class action judge and not due to any other reason, according to Kaufman.

The Statement of Claim, was originally delivered on August 16, 2016 and named Hazel Hill, Brian Doolittle, Aaron Detlor and Elvera Garlow as defendants. The CNW story continues, “among the absurd allegations that the judge dismissed were: breach of contract and fiduciary duty, breach of duties of the HDI, civic conspiracy, conversion, unjust enrichment and breach of trust.

But it is Kaufman’s understanding that there, in fact, was no dismissal at all of these allegations brought by his clients.

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