by Gwen Moritz
Posted 10/10/2013 08:49 am
Updated 6 months ago
A "very wealthy, important person from Canada" flashing a "fanny pack full of money" caused a drunken scene at the elegant Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock three years ago, and a valet injured in the rumpus is now seeking $75,000 in damages.
A lawyer representing Michael Wekerle, then vice chairman of institutional trading for Griffiths McBurney & Partners in Toronto and now executive chairman of Difference Capital of Toronto, said Thursday afternoon that Wekerle had "very recently" become aware of the civil complaint filed this week in Pulaski County Circuit Court by Little Rock attorneys Bud Whetstone and James Swindoll on behalf of the valet, Brooks Jansen.
"He does plan to respond and to defend himself vigorously," said Jeff Kehoe, who works for Difference Capital but who described himself as Wekerle's personal counsel in the Jansen case. Kehoe would not answer any other questions about the case.
Details of the Oct. 22, 2010, incident are contained in Jansen's complaint and in the hotel's "security incident report" included as an exhibit.
According to the documents, Michael Wekerle arrived at Central Flying Service in Little Rock by private jet that Friday afternoon and checked into the Capital at 4 p.m.
Within eight minutes, before even leaving the lobby, Wekerle, then 47, had dropped his pants to his ankles for a few seconds. He also allegedly blew a stadium horn, handed out beer to employees and "acted in a generally rude manner," according to the incident report filed by security officer Michael Parnell.
And it went downhill from there.
Wekerle made a 6:15 p.m. reservation for 21 at the Capital's restaurant, Ashley's. But he left the hotel and didn't return until 8:20 p.m. — during which time his 20 guests were waiting for him and none too happy.
When he did return, he was carrying a blond woman, with whom he fell onto the lobby sofa. He then laid down on the floor.
More: Download a copy of the lawsuit (PDF) and download the Capital Hotel's security incident report (PDF). Also, here's a snippet of video of Wekerle outside the Capital Hotel.
His antics escalated to include dropping his trousers again in the Capital Bar & Grill, jumping up and down on furniture and losing track of his fanny pack and the $10,000 it supposedly contained. And he allegedly "licked the bottom of a female's shoe, then removed the shoe and licked the bottom of the female's foot."
Parnell's attempts to eject Wekerle from the Capital were finally successful shortly after 9 p.m, when a couple of his business associates took him across the street to the hotel then called the Peabody Little Rock (now the Marriott).
'Tort of Outrage'
At one point, according to Jansen's complaint, Wekerle "caused injury to Mr. Jansen's shoulder and neck when he grabbed Mr. Jansen's arm, twisted it and tugged on it as if he were about to flip Mr. Jansen over his shoulder."
The medical treatment for Jansen's injury, which required surgery, was covered by workers' compensation insurance, Whetstone said. But Jansen and his attorneys argue that Wekerle should be held responsible as well.
The lawsuit charges negligence and "tort of outrage" and asks for punitive damages.
A long article about the past and future of Griffiths McBurney & Partners that appeared in late 2011 in The Globe & Mail, one of Toronto's two major newspapers, included this paragraph:
"Most who followed the firm weren’t surprised when Wekerle’s time at GMP finally ended. There had been rumours that he wasn’t as active on the trading desk. There was talk of hard partying. A video made the rounds online showing Wekerle being escorted off the stage at a roast after interrupting the speaker."