City’s MPAC lawsuit on hold

The cover sheet for a civil lawsuit between the City of Cornwall and the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. After publicly announcing the suit this summer, the city has quietly put its legal action on hold. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Only on Newswatch

CORNWALL – The City of Cornwall’s lawsuit against the Ontario Municipal Property Assessment Corporation is on hold.

While it publicly announced the suit against the property valuation company this summer, Cornwall Newswatch has learned the city quietly put the legal action on the back burner.

The City served MPAC with a statement of claim on Aug. 1, alleging the corporation collected taxes based on “inaccurate assessments” prepared by MPAC for three distribution centers.

The City already paid a $392,543 refund to Shoppers Drug Mart and is anticipates paying a “substantial refund” in the order of $4 million to Walmart for its distribution centers if the company is successful before the Assessment Review Board (ARB) and the terms are similar to the Shoppers refund. The board hearing involves Walmart’s Industrial Park Drive location (Supply Chain Management) and the former Eleven Points Logistics location it bought from Target.

It its claim for damages in the amount of the current and potential future refunds, the City also seeks $20,000 for “unjust enrichment,” plus an amount to be determined before trial and court costs.

MPAC filed a notice to defend on July 17, which gave it 30 days to file a defence, but that didn’t happen.

That’s because the City of Cornwall “provided a waiver of defence pending the conclusion of the Walmart Distribution Center appeals at the Assessment Review Board (ARB),” according to MPAC spokesman Cathy Ranieri Sweenie.

Either party could also decide to move ahead with the Superior Court litigation at a time of their choosing, she added.

As for the ARB hearing, the completion of the case disclosure phase for both sides is set to be completed by the end of this month (October). All parties are required to schedule and complete and mandatory settlement meeting among themselves by Jan. 23, 2019.

An ARB spokesman says those timelines are still on target.

The appeal process has been ongoing since 2014.

The City of Cornwall declined comment for this story. “We cannot comment on these matters, as they are before the courts,” CFO Tracey Bailey said in an email to Cornwall Newswatch.

Thumbs Up(3)Thumbs Down(11)