VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – A trucker in the rural community of Fort Nelson, B.C., claims “The Province” newspaper defamed him in a story that accused him of being a thug who uses violence and intimidation to drive out business rivals.
Donald Zimmerman and his company Maxxco Contracting sued Postmedia Network dba The Province, reporter Sam Cooper, the newspaper’s editor and publisher and several truckers, in B.C. Supreme Court.
Zimmerman claims that Cooper’s story falsely portrayed him as a bully who faced a “comeuppance” in court after being charged with assault against another trucker.
The story, relayed by co-defendant Christopher Crerar, alleged that Zimmerman tried to goad Crerar into a fight in a parking lot. Crerar claimed that after he refused to fight, Zimmerman tried to hit him with his truck.
Other truckers quoted in the story falsely accused Zimmerman of criminal assaults, attempted murder and obstruction of justice, the complaint states.
Zimmerman claims that most of the criminal charges against him were stayed, and he ended up pleading guilty to one count of uttering threats. He says he was sentenced to probation.
Zimmerman says the article subjected him to “severe emotional distress,” and that it was “a sensational and inflammatory story which was calculated to attract interest and sell newspapers.”
“This mean-spirited, abusive story line purposely demonized the plaintiff Zimmerman and cruelly ridiculed his physical appearance, all the while calling publicly for his conviction at his then pending criminal trial. In effect, the Postmedia defendants’ conduct amounted to a lynching by newspaper,” the complaint states.
“The Postmedia Defendants cynically calculated that this story, which brazenly offended the plaintiff Zimmerman’s constitutional right to a fair trial … was not likely to result in proceedings against the Postmedia defendants of contempt sub judice, because of limited court and prosecution resources. Further, they calculated that any punishment for contempt sub judice would amount only to a relatively modest fine.”
Defendants include the newspaper’s parent company, Postmedia Network, editor Wayne Moriarty, publisher Kevin Bent, and truckers Christopher Crerar, Chris Holland, Roy Duncan, and Jerry Detta.
Zimmerman is represented by Roger D. McConchie.