Hysterical scenes in principal v parents defamation battle
There has been hysterical scenes outside of court after a bitter defamation battle between Tamborine Mountain State High principal Tracey Brose and the parents of several students took a bombshell turn ending with people wailing in the street and a judge slapping down those involved.
Judge Catherine Muir handed down her decision this morning after Ms Brose sued several parents for defamation over comments they made about her on social media.
Two parents - Donna and Miguel Baluskas were ordered to pay $3000 each in damages while the case against two other parents was dismissed.
But Judge Muir also criticised Mrs Brose's evidence saying she often found it 'troubling' and 'at times her responses were less than transparent and beggared belief".
"I do not accept the Plaintiff as a reliable historian," she said in relation to part of Ms Brose's evidence.
The amount of damages being sought by Ms Brose varied throughout three year case but, in total, amounted into the hundreds of thousands.
Things took a dramatic turn outside court with Mrs Baluskas in hysterics when a woman approached her claiming to be a fellow ex-Tamborine parent and saying her own son had committed suicide.
It sparked Mrs Baluskas to erupt into wailing tears, hugging the woman. Mrs Baluskas, who was vocal about the toll of the case outside court, continued to wail uncontrollably as she walked away from the courthouse with supporters.
Tamborine Mountain high school principal Tracey Brose said outside court she feels vindicated and would do it all again, despite being awarded just $6000 in a landmark defamation case against disgruntled school parents.
Speaking to media outside the court, Mrs Brose said "it was never about money".
"I need to say to people, 'you don't have a right'," she said.
"Yes it might be an error and yes you might have had poor judgement in doing it, but the reality is, if it was that, then you apologise when you found out it hurt the person - you retract and you take it back.
"It's been four years of a mission to actually destroy us."
Four parents settled the case out of court but a bitterly-fought trial unfolded between Ms Brose and parents Donna and Miguel Baluskas and Laura Lawson which divided the community of 7000 people on Mount Tamborine in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
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The drama began when Donna Baluskas and other parents allegedly made derogatory comments about Ms Brose on Facebook, prompting Ms Brose to start legal action against eight parents.
Ian Martin reached an out-of-court settlement with Ms Brose in May 2017, agreeing to pay her $20,000, Ken Veasey settled the case and paid Ms Brose $70,000, Kerri Ervin settled rather than go to trial and paid more than $90,000, school lollipop lady Trudie Arnold declared bankruptcy and Charmaine Proudlock reached a settlement and did not have to pay a cent.
Donna and Miguel Baluskas and Laura Lawson proceeded to trial.
Today, Donna and Miguel Baluskas were both ordered to pay $3000 each in damages and were gagged from defaming Ms Brose again.
The case against other parents Laura Lawson and Trudie Arnold (who declared herself bankrupt and did not participate in the trial) was dismissed.
Judge Catherine Muir said each party should cover their own legal costs.
The fallout for nearly everyone involved has been nothing less than Shakespearean: Families bankrupted and an idyllic Queensland community torn apart.
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