In April or May last year, Mr Coles wrote on a self-created website and urged potential Bruder customers to reconsider purchasing the high-end manufacturer’s trailers.
The website was removed by Mr Coles on May 15 and on June 20, but not before a Lemon Caravans & RVs in Aus member shared the link to the Facebook group and Ms Leigh commented on the post.
“I am hoping by showing this to 45,000 members that Bruder might pick up their act. Losing a sale would cost them a fortune,” she wrote, according to the previous court judgment.
Ms Leigh went on to name five companies, including Bruder, which she said had launched, or threatened to launch, legal action against customers who had written negative reviews.
“The extent of the shameful behaviour and dangerous practices in this industry is far bigger than most would know,” she posted, according to the previous court judgment.
On July 2, Bruder demanded Ms Leigh remove the posts. She did not, and legal action ensued.
The Brisbane District Court granted a temporary injunction on July 10 preventing Ms Leigh from posting about Bruder or its products until the trial.
Then on November 1, a jury found Ms Leigh had published injurious falsehoods, thereby causing Bruder actual loss amounting to $375,000.
However, Ms Leigh is a disability pensioner, has little by way of assets, and does not have enough to cover the judgment in the trial. She previously asked supporters for help to cover the court costs.
Following the outcome of the trial, Judge Suzanne Sheridan issued a permanent injunction to restrain further publications from Ms Leigh of the same, or substantially the same, effect.
On November 3, two new posts appeared on the Lemon Caravans & RVs in Aus Facebook group under the name of Tracy Leigh.
“It is a massive lie because … it gave them so much credibility that they did not deserve because one element in the patent application, the weld point in the airbag attachment component, was weak and failed,” the first post said in part, according to the latest court judgment.
The second post was in response to another user’s attempt to correct Ms Leigh.
“As part of the discovery process I received over 500 documents from Bruder that showed Charlie Coles had told 100% truth. And so, so much more,” Ms Leigh said, according to the court judgment.
Her barrister, Simon Trewavas, argued the injunction was unclear and the court could not be satisfied that Ms Leigh knew the order or its terms, or that she was responsible for those posts.
However, District Court Judge Leanne Clare said one of the posts published after the permanent injunction under Ms Leigh’s name suggested she did understand the terms of the injunction.
“I am restricted right now from publishing anything in relation to the First to Fourth Publications in the Statement of Claim in the case. This doesn’t include Bruder’s claim that they had a registered patent. More to come when the final injunction orders are settled next week and I know what I can and can’t expose,” the post said, according to the latest court judgment.
In deciding Ms Leigh’s punishment, Judge Clare said: “Ms Leigh acted to republish allegations after a jury had found them to be false and substantially injurious, and after a judge had ordered her to stop. She did so very soon after the order had been made. It was a flagrant breach.”
Ms Leigh was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid community service and pay Bruder’s costs.
Toby Crockford is a breaking news reporter at the Brisbane Times