BRITISH COLUMBIA
04/29/2014 06:30 EDT | Updated 06/29/2014 05:59 EDT

B.C. judge awards damages to gullible and naive entrepreneur over business deal

VANCOUVER - Misrepresenting a vending-machine business to a "gullible and naive" entrepreneur has cost a Vancouver-area businessman more than $435,000.

B.C. Supreme Court Judge Stephen Kelleher says Brian Thurston of Nutriview Systems Inc. convinced Harry Ma to pay a grossly inflated fee for a vending-machine business that operated in the Coquitlam School District, east of Vancouver.

Kelleher says Thurston, a former stunt man and actor who has training in motivational speaking, also promised that corporate-sponsorship agreements and supply arrangements were in place and he would buy back the business in the first year if Ma wasn't satisfied.

But the judge noted in his ruling that the contract between the men contained none of the promises, and Ma, who was 22 years old at the time, didn't consult a lawyer because he didn't want to show a lack of trust in Thurston.

Kelleher says while Ma let his trust overwhelm his commons sense, the man still had the right to rescind the contract because three of Thurston's statements were fraudulent.

The judge assessed the business at $175,000 but awarded more than $435,000 in damages to Ma.