A former member took the Vernon Pickleball Association to court, alleging oppression and unfair prejudice, after he was removed from the association for being “unsportsmanlike.”
In a judgement handed down Oct. 23 in Supreme Court by Justice Sheri Ann Donegan, Lane Roberts’ claim against the association was dismissed in its entirety.
According to court documents, Roberts was a pickleball association member since Nov. 4, 2015. However, his membership was revoked after the association received several complaints from fellow members about his conduct. According to complaints, Roberts gave unsolicited coaching of players, displayed unsportsmanlike conduct, and brought his dog to games and caused disruptions.
Roberts was suspended temporarily as a result before further complaints were received. His membership was terminated in October 2017.
In his claim against the association, Roberts sought the restoration of his membership, the lift of his lifetime ban, the removal of the no unsolicited coaching rule, suspesnsions and fines for the defendants and that the VPA be fined the cost of his membership in the organization and all costs pertaining to playing pickleball in all seasons for the remainder of his life.
“Roberts’ overarching complaint here is that he had a reasonable expectation that the VPA would be run in a fair and orderly manner in accordance with its Constitution and Bylaws. His particular complaints revolve around his fundamental disagreement with the VPA’s characterization of his conduct as contrary to the Code of Conduct. Rather, he asserts that it was actually the defendants and/or other members who behaved in manners that contravened the Code of Conduct, were oppressive, unfair, and, at times, acted outside the realm of the lawful authority of the VPA,” Justice Donegal said in her reasons for judgement.
“When I examine all of the evidence carefully, I conclude the directors of the VPA were acting in what they believed to be the best interests of the VPA, in accordance with its Constitution. They were required to act upon a number of member complaints levied against Mr. Roberts. They acted in a manner consistent with the VPA’s Constitution, Bylaws and Code of Conduct. In other words, they were not acting in bad faith, unfairly, or oppressively toward him.”
Justice Donegal said evidence showed Roberts repeatedly breached the VPA Code of Conduct and the directors acted within their authority when the decision was made not to renew his association membership.
“As the defendants have established, Mr. Roberts has not been banned from playing this sport for life, as he alleges. He is not precluded from playing the sport in other associations or privately with other acquaintances, including current VPA members, if they so choose. There are other local pickleball clubs in the area and a variety of tennis courts painted with pickleball lines. The VPA currently uses the courts during certain timeframes each day and otherwise the courts are available to the public,” Justice Donegal said.
“In the end, there is simply no basis for any claim that the VPA or the individual defendants have behaved in an oppressive or unfairly prejudicial manner toward Mr. Roberts.”