Principal Tracey Brose continues legal fight

A GOLD Coast Hinterland principal who won a paltry $6000 in a landmark internet defamation case that spanned 3.5 years is back in court seeking more money from a parent whose case was dismissed.

In appeal court documents Mt Tamborine High School principal Tracey Brose claims she owes $1.1 million across three mortgages and asks for a reduction in her appeal fees.

Mrs Brose is asking the state's highest court to award her $2000 in defamation damages from Trudie Arnold and an order for the former Mt Tamborine parent to pay the principal's court costs.

Mrs Brose lost her defamation suit against bankrupt Ms Arnold in February when District Court Judge Catherine Muir ruled her Facebook comments were not defamatory of Mrs Brose.

Former school parents Donna and Miguel Baluskas have also filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, in a bid to overturn Judge Muir's finding that they defamed Ms Brose in posts on the Change.org website on March 7, 2016.

In February Judge Muir ordered Mr and Mrs Baluskas each to pay $3000 in damages for Mrs Brose's hurt and distress, but the pair were both bankrupted on November 7 last year.

Principal Tracey Brose. Picture: Adam Head
Principal Tracey Brose. Picture: Adam Head

 

Trudie Arnold. Picture: Adam Head
Trudie Arnold. Picture: Adam Head

Mrs Brose's lawyer Mark Jones submits in court filings that the appeal has good prospects of success.

Mrs Brose asked the Court of Appeal registry for a discount on its filing fees, because she is weighed down by massive debts caused by taking out mortgages to pay her lawyers fees.

"To date I have spent more than $700,000 on legal fees and it is projected that a further $120,000 is required in order to complete the current court case," Mrs Brose stated in her "financial hardship" form submitted on April 9.

"This will equate to approximately another $1000 per month on the current mortgage for the next 20 years. The sum total of debt owed to the bank will be approximately $1.2m" she stated.

"I have borrowed $170,000 from my brother and $100,000 from my father (retired) which is not encompassed within the Commonwealth Bank loans. This personal loan from him has depleted his lifelong savings account."

Mrs Brose submitted that she has $1,103,001 worth of mortgages, despite she and her husband Peter bringing in combined wages of $5770 a fortnight.

She claims her rental income is now zero due to coronavirus, but is still claiming she spends $400 a fortnight on "sport and activities" for her three children.

In their appeal Mr and Mrs Baluskas, a labourer and nurse from Nerang, on the Gold Coast, applied on March 26 to overturn the ruling that they defamed Mrs Brose, arguing they believe their Change.org comments were never published.

Donna and Miguel Baluskas arrive at Southport court during the trial. Picture: Adam Head
Donna and Miguel Baluskas arrive at Southport court during the trial. Picture: Adam Head

Mr and Mrs Baluskas argue that Mrs Brose "used tampered with evidence" in the case against them, and argue they only admitted their posts had been published on Change.org because they were relying on "misleading, misrepresented documents" of Change.org posts given to them during discovery by Mrs Brose's legal team.

The couple have asked the Court of Appeal to order Mrs Brose to repay all money they paid her under previous costs orders and for Mrs Brose and her lawyers to jointly pay all of their legal costs for the past four years - which exceeds $300,000.

The couple also asked in their application for filing fees to be reduced by the Court of Appeal after Mrs Baluskas told the court she has just $58 in the bank, despite earning an annual salary of $104,372 as a nurse at a Vision Centre day clinic and Mr Baluskas submitting he earned between $867 and $1298 a week for the past three weeks, as a labourer.

The defamation suit has lost them their life savings, their home, their car and caravan.

No date has been set for hearing of either appeal.

Originally published as Tamborine school feud returns to court


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