A B.C. Supreme Court judge has determined that an “infatuated” man who provided a woman with $80,000 to buy a home in Port Alberni was not giving her a gift.
In the recent court case, which took place in Nanaimo, plaintiff Steven Levington claimed a 20 percent interest in a property located on 17th Avenue in Port Alberni, based on his provision of $80,000 towards its purchase. He argued that he provided the funds in order to purchase an ownership stake in the home. The defendant, Adalena Benson, did not deny receiving the $80,000, but said that it was initially provided as a loan that was later converted to a gift.
“They say that love can make one do questionable things,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ward Branch said in his introductory remarks on the case. “On the facts of this case, did that potential effect extend to the plaintiff making an $80,000 gift to the object of his affection?”
The court heard that both parties had known each other for several years, but their relationship became “more involved” around August 2019. Levington asserted that he and Benson began a romantic relationship at that time and started discussing the possibility of purchasing a home together.
Benson, however, argued that she was not interested in purchasing a home together and denied that there was any romantic element to their relationship. She did, however, allow Levington to move into her home and live in the basement, first in Ladysmith and again after she moved to Port Alberni.
It was in November 2019 that Benson sold her home in Ladysmith and made plans to purchase a home in Port Alberni, instead. However, she advised Levington that she lacked the funds necessary to complete the purchase of the home and asked for $80,000 to make up for the shortfall.
Levington said that both parties made arrangements in July 2020 to see a notary in order to arrange for Levington’s 20 percent interest in the home to be formally reflected on title. However, Benson denied that she attended the notary office and even alleged that her signature on the transfer documents is a forgery.
In his ruling, Branch says that the pair had “a very unusual relationship” with mingled finances and evidence of “substantial” cash transfers from Levington to Benson. He also said that both parties had inconsistent stories about their versions of events.
“The testimony given by the two parties is impossible to reconcile, meaning that one or both are not telling the truth,” he said.
Branch determined that Levington has a valid 20 percent share of the home. He granted Benson 120 days to pay Levington $124,000, which represents his share of the $620,000 valuation.
If Benson cannot pay the amount, the home will be listed jointly for sale and 20 percent of the proceeds will go to Levington.
“Mr. Levington was clearly infatuated with Ms. Benson,” said Branch in his analysis. “Ms. Benson did not feel the same way about Mr. Levington, but was more than happy to take advantage of his infatuation to secure assistance for herself, most notably the provision of $80,000.”