More conflict swirls around Sturgis North.
Ray Sasseville, Joan Hansen and Sturgis North Entertainment Inc. have launched a lawsuit revolving around motorcycle events they were involved in locally.
Named in the civil action as defendants are Steve Hammer, the District of Sicamous, Sicamous Chamber of Commerce, Darrell Trouton, Renee Charbonneau aka Belt Drive Betty, Bernie Aubin and Vincent Lewis.
Sasseville and Hansen were behind the Sturgis North Motorcycle Rally and Music Festival held in Salmon Arm in July 2011 for which Hammer was site manager. The event was held at two sites: the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds and on Neskonlith band land in Gleneden.
In a summary of the 30-page statement of claim filed Dec. 9 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, Sasseville, Hansen and Sturgis North allege that Hammer breached a verbal agreement by failing to organize the event as agreed and so tried to ‘hijack’ the event to their detriment. They allege he also ‘hijacked’ the Sicamous Burn-out event and infringed upon the plaintiffs’ intellectual property by using the plaintiffs’ name and taking over the Sicamous event. They also claim that at the 2012 motorcycle rally arranged by the plaintiffs near Vernon (at the Spallumcheen Motoplex Speedway and Event Park), Hammer interfered with contractual relations between the plaintiffs and third parties.
In response, Hammer told the News the allegations are ridiculous.
“As far as I see, they’re trying to shake bushes and grasp at straws to make others look bad to make them look good.”
He added that if Sturgis North, Sasseville and Hansen had paid their bills for services from everybody, “they wouldn’t have to sue anybody because they’d have a great festival going on today…”
Regarding Renee Charbonneau, who publishes a blog as Belt Drive Betty as well as a newspaper serving the motorcycle community, the plaintiffs claimed Charbonneau has and continues to publish libellous statements and engage in defamatory conduct with regard to them.
The plaintiffs allege that Bernie Aubin, an entertainment provider from Maple Ridge, spread rumours and told lies about them to “the entire music industry” so musical acts wouldn’t book or would require full price up front.
Lawyer Rod Cherneyko from Salmon Arm is representing Hammer, Charbonneau and Aubin. He told the News that the claims would be “vigorously defended.” He continued: “The claim by Mr. Sasseville and others is frivolous and we’re definitely looking forward to getting to the bottom of a lot of issues with respect to Mr. Sasseville.”
Regarding Vincent Lewis from Vernon, the plaintiffs allege that he was engaged to provide camping and, after tickets were sold based on the proximity to the 2012 event, he cancelled the agreement.
In the action against Trouton, the District of Sicamous and Sicamous Chamber of Commerce, the plaintiffs claim the defendants breached their agreement for the Burn-out with Sturgis North and entered into a contract with Hammer.
Trouton, the mayor of Sicamous, said the court action against the District of Sicamous is being handled in camera so he can’t comment. Regarding being named as an individual in the lawsuit, Trouton said: “Personally, I think they’re just grasping at straws, trying to name everyone as much as possible – I think they’re reaching.”
None of the allegations against the defendants have been proven and some defendants have not yet submitted a response to the courts.
Following the 2011 event in Salmon Arm and the 2012 event in Spallumcheen, a 2013 event was proposed for Silvery Beach near Chase and, later, Merritt, but was cancelled. A 2014 event is planned for Merritt and the name has been changed to Sturgis Canada.
While the first two events received some good and some not-so-good reviews from participants, both the 2011 and 2012 events left debts behind them.
A lawsuit initiated in 2012 by the motoplex seeking close to $400,000 from Sturgis North Encore Productions Inc. remains before the courts, and some Salmon Arm businesses who were told they would be paid for their work still have not been.
Regarding finances for 2014, the News was told by a publicity firm working for Sturgis Canada that they are “solid.”