Reasonable Doubt: A Christmas class action

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“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”
- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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An interesting and novel class action lawsuit was filed in B.C. Supreme Court this week.

The lawsuit, filed by the Vancouver firm Ebenezer & Co. LLP, names Nicholas Claus and North Pole Enterprises Ltd. as the defendants.

The representative plaintiff is a man well-known by his neighbours for zealously guarding his lawn with a hawkish eye from his balcony.

When contacted by the Reasonable Doubt writers for comment, class plaintiff I.H. Chris Mastime shouted through his mail slot “that fat creep has been wandering down by chimney in the middle of the night for years!” The press left quicker than a Toronto Star cameraman from Rob Ford’s driveway as they heard the sound of what appeared to be one or more firearms being loaded. No further comment was obtained at that time.

“I think it’s a terrible idea, yes I do, sir!” exclaimed Robert Cratchit, a filing clerk who phoned in his comments to the media. “Every year, my son Timothy looks forward to these visits and it’s the only time my wife lets me eat an entire plate of cookies once the kids have gone to bed.”

The lawsuit claims both trespass and conversion, the latter essentially being a claim for theft. The class action seeks to recover damages on behalf of “all such persons whom the defendants, together or individually, have visited on or about December 24 of each year since antiquity.”

Mastime’s counsel explained that the lawsuit seeks compensation for aggrieved parties for damage to chimneys, fireplaces, and the “intentional removal and consumption of milk or cookies or both from an as-of-yet undetermined number of homes”.

Defendants’ counsel, of the firm Dietz, Hamilton, McCubbin Yee LLP, immediately filed a countersuit on the defendants’ behalf, claiming that “for years, the plaintiff and all those who adopt his perverse and unreasonable view of the defendants’ conduct, have been unjustly enriched by the leaving of various presents, goods, and other chattels in or near certain coniferous trees erected in homes. Further, and in the alternative, the erection and decoration of said trees constituted an implied invitation or consent to enter the homes in question.”

Upon filing, Mastime soon applied for an interim injunction restraining the defendants from “trespassing or otherwise illegally entering at any time any homes without the express permission of the lawful occupants, including, but not limited to, on the evening of December 24 and the morning of December 25 from year to year”.

The application was heard by the Associate Deputy Interim Chief Justice Designate of B.C. Supreme Court and aggressively opposed by defence counsel.

“This lawsuit, not just this application, is entirely without merit and brought for improper purposes,” said defence counsel Kevin McCallister.

His co-counsel, John McClane added that Mastime “appears to lack both the common decency and sense that we expect of litigants appearing before this court”.

Plaintiff’s counsel emphasized that damages could be in the “trillions” of dollars once pre-judgment interest going back 2,013 years is calculated and “it appears that the defendants are possessed of insufficient assets” to pay such a judgment. According to counsel, the defendants’ collective assets are limited to nine hooved livestock, one of which has a nasal tumour that may affect his fair market value, an antique sleigh, and a small, indistinguishable wardrobe. Some or all of these assets appear to be exempt from seizure according to the terms of the Arctic Resources Management Accord signed by Canada, Russia, and the Scandinavian states.

In dismissing the application, Justice Clark Griswold noted that the relief sought by Mastime amounted to “an all-out attack, if not prohibition, on the use and enjoyment of an indeterminably large number of toys and other personal property by children around the globe” and that the effects of granting the injunction would far outweigh the harm done, if any, by maintaining the status quo.

A short, disgruntled member of the public had to be restrained by court sheriffs while waiving a banner and shouting slogans related to allegedly poor labour conditions of those working for the defendants. “More Toys, Less Noise” read the banner. It is apparently a reference to the noise levels in the defendants’ wood-working department. When reached for comment, the protester only replied “What?! What?!” to media questions.

After failing to obtain the sought-after injunction, it is unclear what will come of Mastime’s lawsuit. His FundRazr campaign has ground to a halt, raising only $0.87. His counsel predicts that the lawsuit will cost upward of $100,000 in disbursements to bring to trial.

“This lawsuit affects the rights of millions of people worldwide. I encourage all those who believe in preventing this and similar invasions of privacy to come forward and support my client’s noble efforts on their behalves,” said Mastime’s lawyer, Marv Merchants.

“I won’t stop until this injustice is stopped once and for all and Claus is called on to answer for his sins before a jury of my peers,” proclaimed Mastime. “Things cannot continue this way. Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough!”

As Mastime climbed behind the wheel of his car and sped off, a translucent object appeared to be in tow, as if caught in its draft. That object appeared to be wrapped in chains. An expert in paranormal activity opined that it may have been the ghost of one Jacob Marley, believed to be deceased in England in the 19th century.

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