A dispute between Winnipeg-based women’s clothing designer Peter Nygård and his Bahamian neighbour hedge-fund billionaire Louis Bacon is moving to a Manhattan courtroom.
On Wednesday, Bacon’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against Nygård in the U.S. District Court of Southern New York, taking the dispute over the development of Nygård’s Lyford Cay home out of the Bahamas and moving it to a larger stage.
Bacon and Nygård have been neighbours in the Bahamas since 1993.
In documents filed, Bacon claims he’s been the victim of a smear campaign allegedly orchestrated by Nygård.
"For the past several years, and continuing to this day, I have been the subject of a malicious smear campaign—waged through the press, over the Internet, and in staged protest marches—accusing me of repugnant crimes and activities," Bacon said. "This wide-ranging attack campaign is based on inflammatory and malicious lies."
Bacon points to another court document, prepared by one his lawyers Jenny Afia, that outlines his allegations against Nygård, including the airing of a CBC Fifth Estate story on Nygård in April 2010.
Nygård is suing the CBC for the broadcast.
Bacon’s lawsuit claims Nygård mistakenly believes Bacon was behind the CBC broadcast, and a subsequent Forbes magazine article, and as a result has waged a smear campaign against Bacon, according to the document prepared by Afia.
"Without any supporting evidence, the Smear Campaign Nygård is waging falsely accuses Mr. Bacon of a litany of repugnant crimes and activities, including murder, drug trafficking, and membership in the Ku Klux Klan," Afia said. "Operating from the shadows, Nygård has orchestrated the Smear Campaign largely through proxies, in an effort to hide his involvement."
None of the allegations in Bacon’s claim have been proven in court.
The purpose of Bacon’s lawsuit is to get the court’s authorization to subpoena video evidence from Stephen Feralio, who according to the documents spent time filming Nygård.
Bacon alleges Feralio documented not only Nygård’s expansion to his Lyford Cay home, but participated in the alleged smear campaign.
Reports say Bacon is trying to use a little-used U.S. law to gain control of the recordings, made from 2011 to early this year, for use in a case launched against Nygård in the Bahamas in connection to the expansion of his home.
Nygård has said the campaign against him in the Bahamas is being fronted by the "the very secretive Louis Bacon" and that work on his home is not harming the environment.
In a prepared statement Nygård’s Winnipeg lawyer Richard Good said Nygård would file a countersuit in New York.
"This lawsuit is a continuation of Louis Bacon's malicious campaign against Peter Nygård with the objective of obtaining Mr. Nygård 's Bahamian property through illegal means, and to wrongfully continue to damage Mr. Nygård’s businesses and reputation," Good said. "This has been a 10-year battle against Mr. Nygård initiated by Mr. Bacon.
"An example of this ruthless campaign by Mr. Bacon pertains to Mr. Nygård’s applications in 2010 to the Government of Bahamas for permits regarding the reconstruction of his private residence. Since formally filing for the permits, Mr. Nygård has fully cooperated with government officials during a long wait period of four years.
"The required environmental assessments have been completed and are in the hands of the Government. These assessments confirm that there has never been any adverse environmental impact caused by Nygård's activities. Mr. Nygård simply wants to rebuild and restore his home following a devastating fire in 2009 that left 70 per cent of his home in ruins."