Newspaper article The Canadian Press

G20 Class-Action Lawsuits to Move Ahead, Ontario Court Rules

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

G20 Class-Action Lawsuits to Move Ahead, Ontario Court Rules

Article excerpt

G20 class-action lawsuits to move ahead

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TORONTO - An Ontario court has cleared the way for two class-action lawsuits by hundreds of people detained during the G20 summit in Toronto four years ago, saying it's important their allegations of police mistreatment be heard in court.

A proposed class-action suit related to the summit was initially stalled last year when a judge ruled it couldn't proceed because its "broad, sweeping nature" was viewed as problematic.

But a Divisional Court panel hearing an appeal of that ruling determined this week that the proceedings could move forward in two separate, but related, class-action lawsuits.

One will deal with hundreds who were abruptly detained by police at five locations across Toronto, and another will deal with the treatment of those who were held at a "chaotic" detention centre set up during the summit.

"It is important to remember that the police cannot sweep up scores of people just in the hope that one of the persons captured is a person who they believe is engaged in criminal activity," Justice Ian Nordheimer wrote on behalf of the unanimous, three-member panel.

"In essence, in this case, we have a broad class of persons who were allegedly arbitrarily detained in each instance by the police through the use of a single sweeping order."

More than 1,000 people were detained by police during the G20 summit in June 2010 after protesters using so-called Black Bloc tactics broke away from a peaceful rally and ran through the downtown, smashing windows and burning police cruisers.

The vast majority of those detained were released without charge within 24 hours.

The class-action proceedings that will now proceed involve "a very serious issue of access of justice," noted Nordheimer, adding that many of those involved may not be willing to put in the time and expense required for individual legal proceedings.

"The damage was made to the liberty interests of these individuals where the harm is, perhaps, easier to ignore and easier to minimize," he wrote. "It is a harm, however, that is nonetheless real and it is harm, if proven, that should not go unremedied. …

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