A dispute between Winnipeg-based women's-clothing designer Peter Nygård and his Bahamian neighbour, hedge-fund billionaire Louis Bacon, is heading to a Manhattan courtroom.
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, neighbours in the Bahamas since 1993, have been embroiled in a feud for several years, most recently manifested in a claim Nygård has been illegally expanding his estate on the northern tip of Clifton Bay by reclaiming seabed, doubling the acreage of his property.
In the process, Bacon and others claim Nygård is starving his neighbours' beaches of the natural flow of sand and sea-ecological activity. They've gone to the Supreme Court of the Bahamas to seek a judicial review of permits related to work on Nygård's estate.
'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... '
Nygård has said the campaign against him in the Bahamas is being fronted by Bacon and work on his home is not harming the environment.
The documents filed in New York by Bacon add another legal layer to the Bahamian case.
The purpose of Bacon's lawsuit is to get the court's authorization to subpoena video evidence from videographer Stephen Feralio, who, the documents say, worked for Nygård, for use against Nygård in the Bahamiam case.
Bacon alleges Feralio documented not only Nygård's expansion to his Lyford Cay home, but participated in an alleged smear campaign against Bacon.
In Feralio's affidavit, also filed as part of Bacon's New York lawsuit, the 28-year-old videographer said he worked for Nygård from May 2011 to July 2013 and again for a short period earlier this year.
He said he contacted Bacon's office last March using a false name, and later met with Bacon's private investigator, Jack Palladino, with the intent of making available to Bacon video files "that would be relevant to Mr. Bacon."
"I am willing to come forward and to turn over the video evidence in my possession because it is the right thing to do," Feralio said in the court document, adding he has not received any payment from Bacon other than travel, legal and living costs as he has moved to a new city and is unemployed.
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 campaign against Bacon, according to the 68-page document prepared by Afia.
None of the allegations in Bacon's claim has been proven in court.
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 co-operated 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."