There is an overwhelming sense of relief for Okotoks rancher Eddie Maurice and his family.
Eddie was being sued by a trespasser he shot at while on his property. On Thursday, Eddie and his wife, Jessica Maurice, shared their reaction after learning the case was dismissed.
The pair said their lives have been on hold since the ordeal started in February 2018. After noticing someone suspicious rummaging through his vehicles, Eddie fired two warning shots. One of them hit trespasser Ryan Watson. After close to two years, Watson filed a lawsuit against Maurice, seeking $100,000 in damages he alleges he suffered.
“I think it’s ridiculous and it’s nonsense and shouldn’t have been allowed from the start,” Eddie said.
“We are overly relieved it’s finally over, it’s finally done. It’s been a long two-year process, having to endure this,” Eddie said. “It’s affected our kids, they feel the pressure and stress and we can finally just move on.”
Jessica said this has turned them into advocates for changes to protect rural property owners.
“This woke us up to the power an individual can have on society and the government and hopefully we can inspire others to stand up for their rights too,” Jessica said. “We have changed as people and have a bigger purpose in life.”
The couple shared their reaction at their lawyer’s office after the case was dismissed. Their lawyer, Scott Chimuk, said recently passed legislation helped their case. The provincial government passed legislation Bill 27, effectively making it impossible for convicted criminals to sue their victims.
Arguments were made behind closed doors. Watson and his lawyer agreed to a consent dismissal of his claim.
“After all the trauma they’ve dealt with — they never wanted this, they didn’t ask for this, they didn’t ask to be sued by the criminal who tried to violate their home and family and they did file a counter-claim, but at this point, they just want to walk away and get on with their lives.”
The Maurices are now looking forward to planning a holiday in Disneyland, a trip they’ve been putting on hold since the legal drama started.