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Lawsuit of the Week: RV retailer sues disgruntled customers over online complaints

Big Boy’s Toys claims defendants’ social media campaign amounts to defamation
The B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver | Rob Kruyt, BIV

A Parksville, B.C., couple is on the wrong end of a defamation lawsuit after allegedly running a social media campaign describing a newly purchased recreational vehicle as a lemon.

Vancouver Island-based RV dealer Big Boy’s Toys Ltd. filed a lawsuit June 30 against Marcus Willard and Lisa Redl for alleged statements the pair made on various online platforms.

Court documents state Willard purchased an RV from Big Boy’s Toys for approximately $50,000 in September 2022. Willard personally inspected the vehicle and was provided an at-home vehicle orientation and walkthrough by a Big Boy’s Toys employee, according to the lawsuit.

Willard, Redl and their four children then allegedly travelled to San Diego County in California on an approximately four-month trip.

Willard first reported a concern about a leaky window on Big Boy’s Toys customer support message system in December 2022, according to court documents.

The plaintiff claims that the system suggested several solutions including getting the window inspected and using a dehumidifier. Big Boy’s Toys also alleges the Parksville couple did not properly maintain the RV as prescribed by the service manual and the owner’s manual.

In online posts included in the court documents, Redl claimed her family was sold a mouldy trailer that affected their health, ruining their Christmas in 2022.

In the online posts included in the court documents, the couple says an RV technician inspected the vehicle and found $25,000 in damages. Those complaints are alleged to have been shared across multiple social media sites including Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Google and Yelp Inc.

Redl said online reviews showed a history of Big Boy’s Toys selling lemons to others over a period of two decades and that they were not the first to complain, according to the online posts.

It’s alleged Redl has an Instagram account dedicated specifically for the situation, claiming the company’s negligence made her four children homeless and stranded in the U.S. on Christmas.

Redl also claimed on her TikTok channel that Big Boy’s Toys called Willard’s workplace in an attempt to get him fired, according to the court documents.

Throughout various alleged reviews and social media posts, Redl said Big Boy’s Toys knowingly sold her a water-damaged RV that cost her over $100,000 between the original costs, repairs and other expenses.

Big Boy’s Toys claims that all the damage was caused by the couple’s improper care and maintenance of the vehicle, and that the statements made online are defamatory.

The company is seeking general, punitive and aggravated damages, and claims that its reputation, credit and character have been harmed by statements it deems defamatory. The plaintiff’s lawyer delivered the defendants a letter in mid-June stating their statements were false and defamatory, and asked for retractions.

According to court documents, the defendants posted a video in response, repeating the claims about the RV and ridiculed Big Boy’s Toys for sending the letter.

None of the allegations have been proven in court, and Willard and Redl have not filed a response in court as of press time. 

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