Lawsuit of the week: B.C. law society seeks to renew decades-old judgment against lawyer jailed for theft in 1988

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For the third time, the Law Society of British Columbia is suing former lawyer Douglas Charles Johnson over what it claims is an unpaid default judgment from 1997 after he was found to have misappropriated funds from his trust account.

The society’s notice of civil claim filed in BC Supreme Court on July 25 states that Johnson’s current occupation is unknown and that he lives in the U.S. at an unknown address. The judgment handed down in 1997 totalled $437,575 plus costs, which was to cover claims from the society’s special compensation fund.

Johnson allegedly failed to pay any part of the judgment, and the society filed another action in 2007, by which time the alleged debt had grown to more than $670,000. The society’s latest action alleges that Johnson has failed to satisfy the 2007 default judgment, which it seeks to renew. In addition, it claims that post-judgment interest from July 2007 to July 2017 totals $217,124.

“The defendant has failed to satisfy the judgment against him and the plaintiff now sues on the judgment to preserve the defendant’s liability,” the claim states.

In January 1988, Johnson pleaded guilty to multiple theft charges and was sentenced to three years in prison over $140,000 missing from trust accounts, the Vancouver Sun reported at the time. The Sun also reported that the thefts occurred from November 1984 to October 1986, the same month Johnson was suspended by the law society.

Johnson had not responded to the claim by press time.

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