Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Users' Guide To G20 Lawsuits

In the wake of Toronto's G20 summit, where police engaged in activity many considered over-the-top or even abusive, we now see the launching of multiple civil lawsuits against those governmental authorities alleged to be responsible.

This post is a brief guide to the three largest and most important of those civil suits; there will most likely be more yet to come.

Natalie Gray. A protester, Ms. Gray claims that on Sunday, June 27th, she was shot by police with rubber bullets, causing injury to her elbow and sternum. She also claims that after being arrested, she wasn't taken directly to the hospital, but instead that police "drove her around" for thirty minutes first; that she was strip-searched after being taken to the Eastern Avenue detention centre; that she was denied access to her asthma medication; that she was denied access to a lawyer despite repeated requests; that while detained, she was taunted by police; and that she was detained for approximately thirty hours before being released on bail. The Crown withdrew all charges against Ms. Gray on August 23rd. Ms. Gray has retained well-known Toronto criminal/litigation lawyers Clayton Ruby and Brian Shiller as counsel, and filed a suit on September 7th against the Toronto Police Services Board and individual officers for $1.2 million in damages stemming from assault/battery, unlawful arrest and detention, malicious prosecution and Charter violations. A news report featuring an image of Ms. Gray being apprehended by police can be found here; a statement from Ms. Gray is here.

Sherry Good. Ms. Good is the representative litigant in a class action suit launched against both the Toronto Police Services Board and the Attorney-General of Canada (responsible for the RCMP, who also served as police during the G20), and seeking $45 million in damages for Charter violations. The class in this action consists of people who were arrested by police during the G20 at the "big five" hotspots where the majority of people were arrested (at Queen's Park on June 26th, at the Hotel Novotel on the 26th, outside the Eastern Avenue detention centre on the evening of the 26th and morning of the 27th, at the intersection of Queen and Spadina on the 27th, and at the intersection of Queen and Noble on the 27th), as well as any other G20-related arrests/detentions made elsewhere in the city, so long as the individuals in question were either not charged at all or simply informed they were breaching the peace (which is not a criminal charge). The class action was launched on August 6th and has not yet been certified as a class action (meaning that the class of people involved has not been deemed a viable, distinct class of people by a judge). The counsel for the action are Eric Gillespie, of Cunningham & Gillespie LLP, and Murray Klippenstein, of Klippensteins. The class action has a website here.

Miranda McQuade and Mike Barber. Ms. McQuade and Mr. Barber are the representative litigants in a class action suit launched against the TPSB, the Attorney-General, and the Peel Regional Services Board, seeking $115 million in damages. This class action, launched on September 2nd, differs from the Good class action in two important respects. Firstly, unlike the Good class action, it includes individuals who were arrested or detained for G20-related purposes who were eventually charged with a crime. Secondly, in addition to individuals who were arrested or detained, it also includes owners of property in downtown Toronto whose property was vandalized in relation to G20 protests. The counsel for this class action suit (which, like the Good suit, has not yet been certified as a class action) are David Midanik (known for his work as a criminal defence lawyer, particularly in high profile cases such as the Jane Creba shooting) and Charles Wagman. The class action has a website here.

- Christopher Bird, Toronto

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