Someone in Victoria had a frustrating birthday after a sign meant for them was put on the wrong lawn. (Pexels photo)

Someone in Victoria had a frustrating birthday after a sign meant for them was put on the wrong lawn. (Pexels photo)

Opinion: Victoria company sues woman after mistakenly putting birthday sign on her lawn

Who is to blame for escalating this conflict?

Some people just won’t take responsibility for their mistakes.

In this case it’s the owner of a sign company in Victoria that screwed up and then sued someone over it.

I was perusing through the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal decisions and found a head-scratching case from 2022. The tribunal handles a lot of small claims in disputes between people or businesses – from a few hundred to several thousand dollars – and some of the decisions are simply wild in the rancor displayed between parties.

The Victoria dispute started after someone hired a local company to make a lawn sign saying “Happy 80th birthday” for a local senior.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Wrong.

The problem started after the company erected the sign on the wrong lawn – a home adjacent to the actual person celebrating the birthday.

Now if it was me, I’d take the L and just move on from there, but this Victoria company didn’t want to do that.

The company claims that the Victoria resident who incorrectly ended up with the sign on her lawn removed it and bagged it up, but damaged it in the process. The company accused the resident of doing so deliberately – saying the homeowner “ripped up” the large sign.

The company was seeking $2,850 for the damage to the sign and the loss from having to refund the person who hired the company in the first place.

The resident who was being sued ended up countersuing for $3,000, claiming “emotional distress and mental anxiety” due to the incident.

Sigh.

Double sigh.

Reading this entire tribunal decision was exhausting. It smells like the company was mad it had to refund the original customer and decided to punish an innocent homeowner who didn’t ask for a ginormous sign left on her lawn.

The tribunal adjudicator said they had to decide if the sign was truly damaged, if the homeowner is responsible for paying for that damage and if the homeowner truly suffered “emotional distress.” (They also claimed the company was trespassing on her property, but the decision says this was an unreasonable claim.)

On the first point, the decision says the homeowner “did not carelessly or recklessly ‘shove’ the signs into a garbage bag.”

In fact, the decision says the sign appears to have been “tidily folded” although it was technically damaged in the process.

The company’s claim was then dismissed and I needed a break at this point to lower my blood pressure at the childishness of the whole thing.

As for the homeowner’s “emotional distress” claim, the decision says that while she did claim having had “nightmares” from the incident – supposedly requiring medication – there was no compelling evidence that necessitated financial damages.

So both claims were dismissed and that feels reasonable. It’s incredible that people can’t find a way to resolve these situations without ending up in court.

Someone made a mistake and then it blows up into this?

Hopefully those involved have learned from the experience.

READ MORE: Opinion: ‘This sucks’: Popular Victoria restaurant shuts down, blames ‘staffing shortages’

Chris Campbell is an editor for Black Press. You can follow him on Twitter @shinebox44.

Do you have a story tip? Email: chris.campbell@blackpress.ca.

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