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Appeal court dismisses case in long-running B.C. real estate dispute

The chambers judge observed that the 'situation deteriorated into chaos'
The B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

The BC Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal over a fractious Vernon real estate project that went sour.

In a judgment rendered June 5 in Vancouver, the three-judge panel unanimously denied the appeal by SWS Marketing Inc. and Rene Gauthier of a December BC Supreme Court order that struck their notice of civil claim against Home Buyers Group, Marijana Harasemljuk Zavier, Andrew Rezmer, Christian Saxvik, and Odin Zavier.

The panel agreed with the previous judge that the claim was "an abuse of process" and closely mirrored previous legal action over the strata project.

"The action was, in many respects, identical to a separate action the appellants were advancing concurrently. The pleadings, evidence and relief in the two actions overlapped significantly to the point of being almost indistinguishable."

A long-running feud resulted in a series of legal proceedings between investors in the Vernon condominium project.

"The history between the parties, and other third parties, is extended and tortured," the judges concurred.

It all began in 2010, when Zavier became interested in two buildings containing 14 residential strata lots. He planned to acquire the buildings, sell the strata lots to purchasers who would use his management company to manage the properties, rent them out and pay the mortgage.

His company, Four Elements Marketing, entered into a contract to purchase the land and buildings.

He then invited SWS to market the strata lots under a joint venture agreement which provided that SWS would manage the lots and rent them out.

The transactions closed in March 2011, and SWS appointed a strata council controlled by Gauthier. However, after a falling out, Zavier convinced a majority of owners to join him in setting up an alternate strata council in 2013. Neither council recognized the legitimacy of the other.

The chambers judge observed that the "situation deteriorated into chaos."

Zavier then sought assistance Rezmer and incorporated a new numbered company that Saxvik was hired to manage. Most of the owners entered into lease-option agreements with the new company.

The appellants claimed the defendants wrongly induced the owners to breach their joint venture agreements.

The litigation has generated no less than eight published court decisions.

During trial, the parties made it clear they are eager to move on, and all agreed they want the units to be sold.

"Sale of the units would at least bring an end to the prolonged fighting," the trial judge wrote.

"In my view, there is no basis for appellate intervention with the judge's decision and I would dismiss the appeal," Justice Peter Voith ruled, stating none of the grounds has merit.