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Mortgage firm loses bid to be removed from complex West Kelowna lawsuit

Mortgage firm loses bid

A mortgage company has failed to extricate itself from a civil lawsuit involving a West Kelowna woman and the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC.

The woman, who Castanet is not naming due to her cognitive disability, filed a lawsuit last year over hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans she said she made to Vancouver actor and producer Jordan Ninkovich, who later declared bankruptcy.

The woman’s civil claim 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 from a childhood traumatic brain injury.

That caveat would have required PGT’s consent to change the ownership or register a mortgage against the property.

Instead, the woman was able to take out numerous mortgages against her home and made five loans to Ninkovich totalling $398,810, who did not repay the woman. The woman then turned around and sued PGT.

In response, PGT filed third-party notices bringing Ninkovich, 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

According to a BC Supreme Court decision on Monday, Paragon tried to have the third-party notice against them struck on the basis that Landry was acting as an independent contractor of Paragon, so the firm should not be held vicariously liable.

“Paragon says, in the alternative, if Landry is found to have been an employee or agent of Paragon, then it met its duty to properly supervise Landry and any negligence on his part was unauthorized by Paragon,” the decision says.

Justice Ardith Walkem, however, said the evidence was too murky for her to determine the relationship between Paragon and Landry.

“I find it is not plain and obvious the third party claim against Paragon is bound to fail; and therefore, must be allowed to stand,” Walkem ruled.

In response to the original lawsuit, PGT argued the West Kelowna woman was capable of managing her financial affairs at the time the mortgages were taken out. The woman was formally declared capable in September 2017, although at that point, she had already taken out three of the five mortgages the suit mentions. PGT argued the plaintiff was a victim of fraud by Ninkovich, not their negligence.

In his response to the third-party notice, Ninkovich said 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 Nov. 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 per cent 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 the woman treated him in a "manipulative manner," threatening 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.

The lawsuit continues to make its way through the civil courts. The most recent filing on the case is by Ninkovich on Sept. 21, 2023, when he filed notice of change of his lawyer.

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