Dalhousie’s campus radio station, CKDU 88.1 FM, and its station manager are being sued by a local vendor who claims he was never paid for his work at the non-profit’s annual summer picnic.
Court documents show that Steven Weagle, owner of Superdogs Succulent Sausages, is suing for $842. The station manager, Gianna L. Lalonde, was served on Nov. 5 to appear in court on Dec. 19.
“It was very to the point,” says Weagle shortly after serving the papers. “I just said, ‘Hello Gianna, you’re being served,’ and she said ‘Great,’ and that was that.”
CKDU’s volunteer appreciation picnic took place this year on Aug. 17 at the Halifax Common, featuring live music and softball. Hotdogs were traditionally provided by the Dawgfather PhD, an advocate for student issues who sells hotdogs outside Dal’s Student Union Building (SUB).
Unable to cater the event this year, he recommended a friend of his, owner of a recent start-up.
“I was embarrassed, because I was the one who introduced them and [Lalonde] would put him through that,” says the Dawgfather.
“I’m very surprised that CKDU would even pull a move like that because they’re supposed to be the quintessential, ‘Hey, we’re for the small guy.’ Then what do they do? Turn around and stiff the quintessential small business man.”
The arrangement between CKDU and Weagle was made primarily over email but Weagle says verbal changes were made at the event and that his volunteer staff, including his wife Kirsten and business partner Keith Crews, witnessed it.
“According to the emails that I have here back and forth between Gianna and Mr. Weagle,” says Russell Gragg, chair of CKDU’s board of governors, “Gianna would give out tickets to CKDU volunteers and members that could be exchanged for either one regular hot dog, one veggie dog, or a drink, up to a total amount of $250 and that would be turned around into $250 worth of advertising.”
Superdogs claims CKDU owes them $842, to cover the cost of supplies and subsequent legal fees. In an email, Weagle listed the supply costs as such:
- $126 in donair
- $66 in beef
- $48 in chicken
- $165 in hotdogs
- $45 in veggie dogs
- $235 in kettle corn
- $77 in pop and water
Superdogs was welcome to sell their food to anyone who attended the event at their usual cost, but to give free dogs and drinks to 24 ticket holders, says Gragg.
Weagle, however, understood that he would provide hotdogs to anyone attending the picnic and be reimbursed shortly thereafter.
Former CKDU volunteer Ryan Delehanty attended this year’s picnic. He was not one of the 24 ticket holders to visit Weagle for free food, but after hearing about the ticket system, he found it strange when he was handed a free hotdog and drink.
“They had a tip jar for donations, so I just dropped the money I would have spent in there,” recalls Delehanty.
Weagle disagrees with the radio station’s assessment. He says the agreement was that he would supply enough food for approximately 150 people, accept donations at his booth, and that CKDU would “settle up” early the following week.
Instead, Weagle says he received a phone call from Lalonde the following Monday night, saying they’d already settled up and that no compensation was owed.
“A tip jar isn’t out of the ordinary,” says Delehanty, “but it just seemed kind of absurd to me that if they intended to give away hotdogs, why go through the effort of printing and tracking tickets?”
The Dawgfather has helped Weagle with the claim, a veteran of small claims court himself, and expected CKDU to settle before it got this far. Gragg says that won’t be happening because the emails support their side of the story.
“I find it very confusing that they would go through weeks of emails and come up with something,” says Gragg, who is overseeing the case for CKDU, “and then Gianna, without speaking to anybody else, would approach him the day of the event and completely change that around and agree to offer a large cash deal.”
Lalonde declined to comment.
“I’m still hopeful that things might even be resolved without a court date appearance,” says Weagle. “I’m an optimistic person that some sort of settlement can be arranged and avoid the added time and energy and cost associated with having to appear at court. To me, it’s an unnecessary expense.”
In the months since the picnic, the two parties have continued exchanging emails. At one point, CKDU made Weagle an offer.
“We felt bad because an independent business man misread an agreement and was out of pocket, so we offered to give him a bit of a break. Gianna offered a better ad package for him, which he said he was not interested in,” says Gragg.
“He wanted the cash.”
Weagle acknowledged the offers by CKDU but recognized it as an “admission of guilt,” asking why they would offer more than he was asking, albeit in advertising and not cash, if they felt they were in the right from the beginning.
The trial begins on Dec. 19.