A Langley mushroom warehouse has successfully sued a man who made off with tens of thousands of dollars worth of fungi over a three month period.
Justice John Harvey of the BC Supreme Court ordered Zhi Ping Guo to pay $36,417.68 for mushrooms surreptitiously loaded into his van from the Champ’s Mushrooms warehouse in Langley.
Guo had an account to buy mushrooms from Champs and was frequently in the warehouse.
In late 2013, Champ’s manager Tri Quach learned that there were inventory shortages in the warehouse and began investigating, checking security video.
He found that Guo had been arriving at the warehouse very early in the morning before staff arrived, taking significant quantities of mushrooms.
On Nov. 6 of that year, Quach confronted Guo and called the RCMP. Guo would later plead guilty to theft, according to the judgment.
Champ’s originally said that close to $50,000 were taken over a three-month period.
Guo testified the thefts began after he became upset that he was not being supplied with the low-quality “slice ends” he had typically bought from Champ’s.
He then began to load up his van with various mushrooms, reporting to the shipper at the warehouse that he had taken much less.
“It is clear that over the course of time, Mr. Guo was given free rein of the warehouse and loaded his van without assistance and/or oversight by either of the two shippers,” Harvey wrote in his judgment. “Such, no doubt, emboldened him to commence the admitted theft from the plaintiff.”
While Guo had acknowledged stealing some mushrooms, the civil case devolved into wrangling over the exact value of the mushrooms taken.
Harvey noted that Quach was “careless in the extreme” when pricing out what mushrooms were missing, writing “it would appear that the the prices ‘charged Mr. Guo’ as damages were overstated.”
In one case, mushrooms allegedly taken by Guo were valued at $43 a case, but they normally sell for $12 to $14 per case.
Due to the overstatement of prices, Harvey reduced Guo’s penalty by 20 per cent from that claimed by Champ’s.
Guo also attempted to counter sue Quach and Champ’s for defamation – after Quach warned other mushroom distributors – and for infliction of emotional harm.
Harvey dismissed those claims for lack of evidence, also noting that Quach’s statements that Guo had stolen mushrooms were true.