Principal’s bitter legal fight heats up
A SOUTHEAST Queensland couple who face losing their house after they were sued for defamation by the principal of their children's school for posting on Facebook, argue large parts of her claim are flawed.
Parent and nurse Donna Baluskas and her husband Miguel, from Robina, had their pre-trial application heard in the District Court in Southport today where their lawyer Barrie Goldsmith argued Tamborine Mountain State High School (TMSHS) principal Tracey Brose's claim was defective.
"It is incumbent on the plaintiff to plead her case fully and properly," Mr Goldsmith told the court.
The bitter legal wrangle was triggered by online comments about Mrs Brose's suspension by the education department.
A change.org petition for the reinstatement of Mrs Brose to her job as principal was posted on a Facebook group titled "Support Tracy Brose" on 7 March 2016.
The petition was aimed at collecting signatures to send to then-education minister Kate Jones, to encourage her to reinstate Mrs Brose.
Between 7 March 2016 and 13 March 2016, this link was viewed online by more than 8,210 people and 605 supporters signed the petition and 142 people saw Mrs Baluskas's Facebook post, Mrs Brose alleges.
Mr Goldsmith told the court that Mrs Brose's claim had named the 142 people who allegedly saw the defamatory Facebook posts in March 2016, but it had failed to reveal when these people saw the posts, or hand over their contact details.
Mrs Baluskas is alleged to have posted on the change.org petition on March 7, 2016 : "About time something is done about this evil, nasty, horrible women (SIC). She makes my blood boil and bought (SIC) so much pain and stress upon our family and many others. All because our kids aren't "A" students which will effect her overall school ratings".
Mrs Baluskas is also alleged to have made a similar post on Facebook on March 11, 2016.
Ms Brose's claim asserts the posts were false and defamatory of her.
Mr and Mrs Baluskas's then 12-year-old son only attended the school for two weeks before he was expelled for saying "showing me your dick" to another student on the school bus in February 2014.
Mr Goldsmith today told Judge David Kent that Mr and Mrs Baluskas had a right to disect Mrs Brose's claim because her lawyers "took a blowtorch" to defences filed by the five parents sued, having he defence's struck out and forcing them to replead.
The case has been running for three years and is set for a judge-only hearing on October 8.
Mrs Brose is suing each parent for $220,000.
Holly Blattman, counsel for Ms Brose, told the court on Friday that the court should not allow Mr and Mrs Baluskas to file a defence "that is doomed to fail".
Mrs Brose was the principal of the school from January 2000 but was suspended on full pay on 15 February 2016 and returned to work later that year.
Judge Kent has not yet ruled on whether he will strike out parts of Mrs Brose's claim and allow Mr and Mrs Baluskas to amend their defence.
The hearing continues.