Retiree’s win in epic lawn bowls legal battle
A SUNSHINE Coast retiree who claimed she was black-listed by her bowls club's "cowboy" hierarchy after she was wrongly accused of slamming another lady's cooking has won her court battle against the club.
Robyn Perren, 67, from Woombye, took the Nambour Bowls Club to the Supreme Court, claiming she was wrongly labelled a "troublemaker" who was disliked by lady members and this led to her being "pushed out" of the membership of the club by its two chairmen.
Mrs Perren claimed in court that chairman Ralph Wells wrongly accused her of saying "I won't eat anything prepared by that bitch" about a fellow club member, and that she had been humiliated and bullied by the "bunch of cowboys" who run the 130-member club.
She also said tensions were triggered last October when the club ran out of coleslaw at a lunch - dubbed the "Ladies Fiesta Day Incident" - so she took some uneaten slaw from another diner's finished plate and served it up.
On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Sue Brown ordered the club's decision to terminate Mrs Perren's membership on February 23 last year was "void" because it was unauthorised by the club's constitution and the management committee did not have the power.
Justice Brown also ruled that the club denied Mrs Perren natural justice and ordered the club to pay Mrs Perren's legal costs.
After three years of membership, including as secretary of the board, Mrs Perren was officially banned from the clubhouse and its grounds in a letter sent by the club's lawyers in January.
The court heard that the club told Mrs Perren she was banned because she failed to pay her $85 annual membership fee by the end of 2016. Mrs Perren argued she wanted to pay a lesser figure because she had overpaid her green fees.
Justice Brown ruled the club failed to prove Mrs Perren's membership fees were due by December 31, 2016.
Mrs Perren told the court that tensions were triggered on October 11, 2016, when the club ran out of coleslaw at a lunch for 112 visiting lady bowlers.
Mrs Perren served up some "uneaten coleslaw" taken from another diner's "finished plate". The coleslaw shortage was dubbed "the Ladies Fiesta Day Incident" and was raised at a special board meeting of the club in November 2016.
Mrs Perren admits in court documents that she was critical of lady club members who spent more than $1 per head on club afternoon teas but denies claims she had been "running around the club criticising" member and catering manager June Robson to other members in November 2016 after the coleslaw incident.
Mrs Perren admits yelling "extremely loudly" when Ms Robson told her how to use the dishwasher and labelled her a control freak who likes to "organise everything", court documents state.
"People would say I should just forget about it and let it go," she says in court documents.
Mrs Perren told Bowls Queensland in a letter filed in court that when fellow bowlers talk to her about her ban, she has to "turn away so that they don't see the tears".
"To be pushed out of the club by two men (both chairmen) has been humiliating," Mrs Perren says in the letter.
"I have done nothing but ruffle a few feathers," Mrs Perren says in court documents.
"A club member can have a stand-up fight and just be suspended for a few months."
Mrs Perren told the court that on November 10, 2016, then-club chairman Brian Flux told her "none of the women like you" and that he had received "many complaints about you from the women in the club".
Mrs Perren claims club manager Graeme Corps told members "We don't believe Robyn gets along with other people" at a meeting in April 2017, which blocked her from rejoining the club.
When she complained to Bowls Queensland, they told her to go to police.
Mrs Perren declined to comment about her court win.