Councillor Allan Vinni is facing a lawsuit over an alleged dispute with a lawyer at his firm.
Lianne Locke, who has worked at Vinni’s firm for three years, filed a statement of claim in provincial court on Monday. The statement alleges that in January Vinni and Locke entered into a verbal agreement for Locke to be paid $5,000 on the 15th of each month. From January to March, these payments were made with no issue.
Locke, 33, alleges that Vinni then failed to pay the April installment, and hasn’t paid her commission for legal services to clients of the firm for April, which was due May 1, or beyond. According to the statement of claim, Locke is entitled to 50% of fees paid by clients up to $400,000 per year. Beyond that amount, Locke is to receive 100% of the fees.
Added up, Vinni allegedly owes Locke over $15,000.
She claims that she has attempted contact with Vinni on several occasions, but there’s been no response in regards to her pay.
“I probably emailed him 15 times,” Locke told Mix News. “And texted him 10 times, and left him three voicemails. I tried everything from pretty much begging him for the money he owes me to ‘I’m going to sue you.'”
None of the claims in the statement have been proven in a court of law.
Locke also notes in her statement of claim that in January she informed Vinni of her intent to go on maternity leave at the end of May. Now eight months pregnant, she’s getting nervous.
“We have that financial stress of having our first child,” she said. “(In May) we had purchased nothing at that point.”
Locke acknowledged that the wildfire evacuation was a complicating factor in the payment process.
“I did give him some time,” he said. “As I knew he may not have access to the accounts. So I wasn’t expecting to be able to be paid the full amount right away.”
However she told Mix News that since May 1, she’s been locked out of the client information systems at Vinni’s law office. This has prevented her from accessing key files related to her own clients, further preventing her from serving her clients properly.
“There are certain steps I have to take as a lawyer… to make sure my clients are taken care of,” Locke said.
She added that she later learned Vinni had access to the office at several points throughout the evacuation, but made no mention of accessing client files. Instead his email to staff indicated that he was “feeding the fish, watering the plants, and emptying the fridge.”
Vinni was asked for comment on the story Tuesday morning, but declined to make a statement. By Alberta law, he has 20 days to respond to the statement of claim with a statement of defense. Should he fail to do so, he risks losing the lawsuit automatically.