The municipal government in Norman Wells has withdrawn a lawsuit seeking damages for alleged fraud involving a former senior administrative officer.
“This is a time for conciliation. We have chosen to take the moral high ground. We concede the fraud lawsuit by consenting to (former SAO) Ms. (Catherine) Mallon’s application for summary dismissal,” reads a news release on the Town of Norman Wells’ website, posted Jan. 25.
The town’s correspondence makes note of a forensic audit carried out by accounting firm EPR Yellowknife Accounting Professional Corporation with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs helping to establish the terms of reference.
“…in light of EPR’s public apology to Ms. Mallon we have determined it no longer prudent to pursue the current course of action,” the municipality’s news release states. “We have successfully rectified any employee and financial issues faced by the town and have mitigated the potential for repeat of what the former council experienced,”
Mallon, whom the town accused of improper credit card use and irregularities in her compensation without any such criminal conviction against her, is now calling on Premier Caroline Cochrane to hold a public inquiry “to get to the bottom of this shocking waste of public resources, and to avoid this kind of tragedy from happening to anyone else.”
“From the very first moment that this lawsuit was served on me, I have maintained my innocence. The lawsuit started with a justice of the superior court referring to the town’s conduct against me as a ‘miscarriage of justice’ and the town’s decision to consent to my application to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety is proof that the miscarriage of justice has continued for nearly four years,” stated Mallon, whose worked for the town between 2015 and 2018 and whose $2.57-million defamation lawsuit against the town was dismissed in 2021.
“Two weeks ago the town’s witnesses were cross-examined by my legal counsel, and it became entirely clear not only that the town has no case against me, but it never did. Further, it is clear that the town was told about the significant and blatant flaws in its case repeatedly, but did nothing about it,” Mallon wrote in a statement to media released shortly after the Town of Norman wells issued its news release. “I urge the citizens of Norman Wells to review these court documents to see what the actual evidence was.
“The claim against me was malicious from the start, and the continued prosecution of the action against me was malicious. It has cost the town untold amounts of public funds in wasted legal fees. The town’s statement posted on its website is a pathetic attempt to justify four years of its misconduct,” Mallon continued. “After putting me through four years of hell with patently false allegations, the town falsely claims to have taken a ‘moral high road’ in consenting to the dismissal of the lawsuit against me. The truth is exactly the opposite: the town is consenting to the action being dismissed because it finally had no choice but to admit that there never was any basis to sue me and it is desperate to save face.”
The town’s news release alludes to the financial strain of the legal action.
“We were cognizant from the outset that this was going to be a resource intensive process. We have consistently checked the viability of this investment and have now determined it is no longer viable,” it reads.
It also acknowledges the emotional toll that the legal case has wrought on numerous parties.
“This is a natural point for reflection. This has been a long legal process through which we have learned that legal processes are very difficult and hurtful to a community and the individuals involved,” reads the municipality’s news release. “We initiated this action out of respect for our constituents. Former mayor Nathan Watson reminded Council in his letter of apology to Town Council that our community is hurting because of the past and our job is to help mend the community. We must represent our entire community in a constructive fashion. We sincerely thank former Mayor Nathan Watson for his heartfelt message.”
However, the court proceedings are not necessarily concluded because Mallon stated that she fully intends to file a lawsuit alleging malicious prosecution against the town “and those responsible for maintaining this frivolous action against me, and to seek damages against those responsible.”