Social Media – 407 ETR’s Kryptonite

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By Tammy Flores
August 13th Edition

This month the Superior Court of Justice will rule on whether or not 407 ETR can ignore Ontario’s Limitations Act. 407 ETR is trying to say that the law allows the company to “discover” a claim when they decide legal action would be the best solution to collect on a debt and so therefore, it can take more than 2 years to “discover” a claim. The Limitations Act says that legal proceedings can’t begin more than two years after a claim is discovered. 407 ETR is also saying that a customer enters into an agreement with the company for fifteen years when they decide to use the highway. The group “Stop the 407 ETR’s Abuse of Power” is hopeful that the judge will strike down 407 ETR’s action because there are way too many suspect circumstances surrounding the amount of time the company waits to collect on a debt and what the company claims is an agreement.

“Stop the 407 ETR’s Abuse of Power” questions the company’s move in suing Ira Day considering there are many more cases that the company claims owes much more than Ira Day’s $13,719 in tolls and fees. We have seen recent media coverage of consumers that have received bills for more than $40,000.00 after not hearing from the company for many years. The consumers have no idea what the charges against them are for, but the company claims the money is owed. The group is suspicious of the company’s move because of a recent article by Jennifer Brown, for Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

In an article she wrote entitled “It’s Game On In Bet-The-Company Litigation” she quotes Tom Curry, a partner with Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP, lawyers for 407 ETR’s Supreme Court case on whether or not the company can ignore the Bankruptcy Insolvency Act, as saying “For in-house counsel the key is to own the challenge — everyone on the business side is looking to you for guidance and leadership and you must demonstrate you have the mental toughness and commit to success. These kinds of cases are not for half measures. Everybody will be looking to you and it’s a great relief when you adopt that posture…Phase one was ensuring there was an internal awareness and acceptance of risk related to the practice that gave rise to the litigation…When phase two arrives it’s game on for in-house counsel and there are two critical functions: one is to on-board and integrate external counsel into the war effort. The external counsel becomes the quarterback, as it were, for cases of such importance. The second is to become the person who internally marshals resources.”

So in layman’s terms, that means 407 ETR’s lawyers are advising the company to continue to practice as they are, knowing full well in advance, that their practice is risky, but to continue in that way regardless of whether or not it is ethical or follows all the laws of Ontario and Canada as they agreed to do in the Concession Agreement they signed with the Province. They have essentially declared war on consumers. Rather than conform to the law, they are trying to change the law. This is very reprehensible behavior on their lawyers’ part and arrogant behavior on the company’s part to think they can just ignore the laws of the land they are operating a business in. Citizens should be outraged for being played!

The article is a telltale of the mentality behind this company’s behavior because Curry goes on to say that it is a high risk litigation that is “all-consuming and a must-win situation…” for the company. This company’s lawyers are not concerned whether or not the company is following the rules, but that they can and should push
the boundaries and change the playing field. They view their practice as a game they must win at all costs. That is why it is sickening to see the Province of Ontario shy away from properly legislating and regulating this company to protect consumers. At this point, the Province should be like a referee and blow the whistle and site the player that’s cheating for not following the rules.

Curry goes on to say “you can’t look too excited when it goes well or too devastated when it goes badly…” So they are wearing a poker face. Consumers are calling your bluff 407 ETR. Will the courts penalize you for not following the rules? Time will tell.

One positive thing revealed in the article is that the company is afraid of Social Media. If the public wants to “win”… we have to use what they are afraid of. The company’s lawyer discourages any of the business people from going to court and recognizes that they are only comfortable in a conventional media environment. I suspect that’s because they usually have more control over the message they want the public to receive. I remember telling Kevin Sack, 407 ETR’s VP of Communications, back in 2012 that he was not going to control the message and I meant it. We are thankful that Social Media has been a tool in shining light on the abuse of process this company is notorious for. We encourage people to continue to use this company’s kryptonite, Social Media.

To the Superior Court Judge. Do the right thing by Ontario Consumers. Tell the company to play by the rules.

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