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IKEA monkey ‘mom’ hit with $80,000 legal bill

A small monkey wearing a winter coat and a diaper apparently looks for it's owners at an IKEA in Toronto on Sunday Dec. 9, 2012.

Browley Page/The Canadian Press

The self-proclaimed "mom" of Darwin, the monkey found wandering around a Toronto IKEA parking lot just over a year ago in a diaper and winter coat, has been ordered to pay more than $80,000 in legal costs.

Yasmin Nakhuda, a Toronto real estate lawyer who owned the monkey until the animal was seized by animal services after its December 2012 escape, sued to try to get him back. But after a trial last spring, Ontario Superior Court Justice Mary Vallee ordered in September that Darwin should stay in a primate sanctuary in Sunderland, Ont.

On Friday, Justice Vallee issued a costs ruling ordering Ms. Nakhuda to pay $83,077 for the legal bills of the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary and its property owner Sherri Delaney, who is also a senior police officer.

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Ms. Delaney's lawyer, Kevin Toyne of Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP, was actually acting pro bono, but says it is not unusual for winning litigants with pro bono lawyers to seek costs.

He had asked for $122,45.94 in costs, as well as $4,498.72 for "costs incurred by the defendants for hiring security for their premises, which they submit was necessary after they received certain threats, including a death threat to Ms. Delaney and a threat to burn down the premises," according to Friday's ruling.

Ms. Nakhuda's lawyer had argued that she should not have to cover the defendants' costs, because Ms. Delaney was not poor, and because the defendants made "improper" allegations against Ms. Nakhuda that were "an effort to destroy" her reputation.

Those allegations relate to e-mails obtained by the defendants, written by Ms. Nakhuda before the monkey escaped to a U.S. animal trainer, that described how she was having difficulties and how she tried to control her pet.

"This involved grabbing the monkey by the throat and hitting him on the side of the head so that he would succumb and allow his diaper to be changed," the judge wrote, dismissing Ms. Nakhuda's arguments and ruling that the allegations of corporal punishment made by the defendants, which were withdrawn before the trial, were not "vexatious" because they were based on these e-mails.

A lawyer for Ms. Nakhuda said she had no comment.

Ms. Nakhuda is appealing the order that Darwin stay in the sanctuary, and her case is expected to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal later this year.

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About the Author
Toronto City Hall Reporter

Jeff Gray is The Globe and Mail’s Toronto City Hall reporter. He has worked at The Globe since 1998. From 2010 to 2016, he was the law reporter in Report on Business, covering Bay Street law firms and white-collar crime. He won an honourable mention at the National Magazine Awards for investigative journalism in 2010. More

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