A lawsuit from a West Kelowna woman targeting the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC has blossomed into a complex case involving six parties.
The woman, who Castanet is not naming due to her cognitive disability, filed suit last year over hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans she says she made to Vancouver actor and producer Jordan Ninkovich, who later declared bankruptcy.
The woman's lawsuit centred on mortgages she took out on her home, and a caveat that was supposed to be registered against the house she bought with settlement funds after a traumatic brain injury. That caveat would have required PGT’s consent to change the ownership or register a mortgage against the property.
Instead, it is alleged she was able to register multiple mortgages against the home and loaned Ninkovich a total of $398,810.22 between February 2017 and January 2018. The suit alleged Ninkovich told her he would invest her home's equity in the real estate market with "no risk." The woman, who worked as a makeup artist, became friends with Ninkovich in 2016, as they both worked in the film industry.
In response to the lawsuit, PGT claimed no responsibility and filed a third-party notice bringing Ninkovich into the claim. PGT also pulled Chris Landry and Verico Paragon Mortgage Inc.—which is alleged to have secured the loans on Ninkovich's instructions—and Bonnie Baravalle, who was committee of the plaintiff's estate, into the lawsuit
In his response to the third-party notice, Ninkovich said in court filings last week the woman asked for his advice on investing the money, but that, “at no time did the plaintiff loan money to Ninkovich for his investments; if any moneys were paid by the plaintiff to Ninkovich, they were paid only as a convenience to facilitate an investment made by the plaintiff.”
Ninkovich filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019 and was discharged as a bankrupt on November 25, 2020. In his response, he claimed the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act protects him from the legal action.
Ninkovich says that at no time did he tell the woman that real estate investments are 100% secure and pose no risk to her, something the original lawsuit alleges.
He also claims that he was never told by the plaintiff or anyone else that the plaintiff suffered from a severe traumatic brain injury or that she was a vulnerable person with ongoing cognitive impairments.
He alleges that the woman treated him in a "manipulative manner," threatening that she would harm herself or kill herself if he did not date her or spend time with her. He also accuses the plaintiff of stalking him and continuing to threaten him, until told to stop by his bankruptcy trustee.
He does admit to borrowing $12,000 from the plaintiff in early 2018 but says he paid it back by making mortgage payments on her behalf later that year.
In its response to the lawsuit denying responsibility, PGT alleged that the plaintiff was managing her own financial affairs prior to the loan period, and alleges that she was induced to make the loans by Ninkovich’s "fraudulent misrepresentations" and her expectations that she would receive substantial returns.
Ninkovich denies those allegations. His filing also claims that if the plaintiff did suffer any loss or damage, it was caused by her own negligence for failing to receive professional investment advice, failing to advise that she was mentally incompetent and failing to advise that she required a legal guardian to conduct her financial affairs.
Baravalle's response to the third-party notice also denied responsibility, claiming she made "reasonable" efforts to manage the plaintiff's affairs before she retired from the position of committee of the plaintiff's estate in 2017.
"Had the caveat been placed in the plaintiff's land title as as promised, it would have stopped in its tracks the mortgaging of the ... property by Ninkovich and Landry, a matter about which Baravalle and her husband were unfortunately unaware until well after her retirement from the committee role. Had Baravalle been aware, she would have contacted the PGT immediately and asked about the title caveat and PGT approval," Baravalle's response said.
Chris Landry and Verico Paragon Mortgage Inc. also submitted court filings denying any responsibility. Both parties say they were unaware that the plaintiff had a brain injury.
Landry's filing said he is "not a financial advisor and did not provide the plaintiff with any investment advice. His role was limited to securing financing for the mortgages," and that he "secured the mortgages at the plaintiff’s explicit direction."
with files from Colin Dacre