Fired rodeo boss GM files $950,000 lawsuit

 

The former general manager of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association has launched a $950,000 lawsuit against the organization, claiming he was the victim of a “malicious” termination.

Dan Eddy was fired in July amid internal wrangling and controversy over the future of the Canadian Finals Rodeo, a situation that also resulted in the resignations of five association directors.

In a statement of claim filed with the court late last month, Eddy says he was subjected to relentless abuse and a poisoned work environment during his 16 months of employment with the association. The association abruptly fired him without cause shortly after a period of doctor-ordered stress leave, the claim says.

“The defendant’s conduct, including the suspension then termination of the plaintiff was high-handed, malicious treatment, and done publicly with intent to embarrass and discredit the plaintiff,” the claim says.

“The wrongful conduct of the defendant had required the plaintiff to receive medical care and ongoing medical treatment. His reputation has been damaged and his ability to find new employment is significantly impaired.”

According to the claim, Eddy moved from Nova Scotia to begin his duties as the rodeo association’s general manager in March 2015.

A three-year employment contract was later finalized that granted Eddy a $150,000 annual salary, plus bonuses, health benefits, and use of a vehicle and cellphone. The contract, set to expire in 2018, could not be terminated except by mutual agreement or for cause, the statement of claim says.

It is unclear when difficulties began at the association, but Eddy’s statement says he was subjected to “relentless and demeaning” attacks from director Terry Cooke that the rest of the board failed to stop.

“Terry Cooke, supported by other members of the board of directors, embarked on a process of privately and publicly attacking the plaintiff with a view to having the plaintiff fired,” the claim says.

The statement says the situation reached a boiling point in May 2016, when Cooke threatened Eddy and called a him a “f — ing liar,” a “f — ing failure,” and “no good.”

About a week later, Eddy says he was unjustly suspended from his job while on doctor-ordered stress leave, a move that further strained his relationships with the association’s employees, directors and clients.

At the time, the association announced the suspension was necessary while a human resources investigation was conducted into complaints made against Eddy by office staff.

However, Eddy’s claim says that during the suspension, the association asked him to continue negotiations on the Canadian Finals Rodeo. Then in July, he was informed the board had voted to reinstate him as a general manager, after receiving the results of the investigation.

Eddy’s claim says he told the association he could not return to work for at least two weeks, due to his stress leave. He was then fired on July 26.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and no statement of defence has been filed. Cooke was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Eddy is seeking $346,000 for compensation he says is still owed under his employment contract, plus $500,000 for the association’s “malicious” treatment and $100,000 in punitive damages.

Eddy’s departure came amid a period of turmoil for the rodeo association, stemming from an internal tug of war to get a new long-term deal for the Canadian Finals Rodeo. 

After rejecting an offer to stage the CFR in Rogers Place, the association’s leadership placed the event on the open market but drew almost no interest. A failed attempt to hammer out a deal in Saskatoon followed, before a new regime took over and reached an agreement to keep the rodeo at Northlands until 2018.

kgerein@postmedia.com

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