SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT REACHED IN 2010 G20 SUMMIT CLASS ACTIONS FOR MASS ARRESTS AND DETENTIONS

August 17, 2020 — If you were arrested or detained at the G20 Summit in Toronto in 2010, read this for a summary of the benefits to which you might be entitled, once the Settlement Agreement is approved by the Court.

At the G20 Summit of world leaders in Toronto in June of 2010, thousands of concerned individuals expressed their views in public demonstrations on important issues.  Unfortunately, by the end of the weekend about 1,100 individuals, demonstrators and others, had been mass arrested in large groups, surrounded by cordons of police in riot gear, and had been detained in a temporary Detention Centre in inhumane conditions.  If you were one of those arrested, or if you are simply a citizen concerned about freedom of expression and civil liberties in Canada, read on.

Sherry Good was one of those mass arrested by police encirclement at the intersection of Queen Street and Spadina Avenue in a group of four hundred consisting of demonstrators and other individuals who simply happened to be present, and held for four hours in terrifying conditions.  In August of 2010 Ms. Good launched a class action lawsuit against Toronto Police Services for breach of civil and personal rights, as the Class Representative for all those who had been mass arrested and detained.  Thomas Taylor later joined her as a Class Representative.  They and all class members were legally represented by the law firms of Murray Klippenstein and Eric Gillespie.

Now, after ten years of intense court proceedings and difficult negotiations, Class Representatives Ms. Good and Mr. Taylor and Class Counsel Mr. Klippenstein and Mr. Gillespie are very pleased to jointly report that they have signed a comprehensive Settlement Agreement with Toronto Police Services that provides financial compensation for those mass arrested and detained totalling up to $16.5 million, and also includes other important public interest remedies in defence of civil rights.  The Class Representatives and Class Counsel believe that the Settlement Agreement is a very good result for class members and for the public interest, and are recommending the settlement to class members and to the Court which will be reviewing the Settlement Agreement for final court approval in October.

A summary of the remedies in the Settlement Agreement is provided below, but class members are also invited to visit the website established for administration of the settlement at www.G-20ClassActionSettlement.ca.  That website includes further explanations and details.  You can also email or call Class Counsel at the contact information on the Contact page.  A copy of the Settlement Agreement can be reviewed here: G20 Settlement Agreement – July 3 2020.

The Remedies in the Settlement Agreement

The Class Representatives and Class Counsel from the beginning viewed these lawsuits as important both for claiming financial compensation for the personal damages suffered by the arrestees, and also for defending public Charter rights such as freedom of expression.  Therefore, we viewed it as highly important that the Settlement Agreement include not only pecuniary relief, that is, financial compensation to class members who were wrongfully arrested and detained, but also that the Settlement Agreement contain explicit non-pecuniary measures, in the nature of public interest remedies, to help protect Charter rights in the future. The Settlement Agreement therefore contains a “package” of financial and non-financial remedies.

       Financial remedies in the Settlement Agreement

The Settlement Agreement includes a commitment by the Defendant to pay individual class members on a per-claim basis in specified amounts, up to an aggregate maximum of $16.5 million, as compensation for breaches of their rights and for their individual harms suffered.  This compensation is to be applied for and distributed pursuant to the claims administration process set out in the Settlement Agreement. 

The Parties to the lawsuits agreed upon specific amounts of compensation payable to individuals based on their subclass, so that each arrested individual in a particular subclass will receive the same amount as others in that subclass.  This amount varies for each of the different subclasses, based on the differing circumstances at each of the five mass arrest locations (Eastern Avenue, the Esplanade, U of T Gymnasium, Parkdale, Queen and Spadina), and at the Detention Centre, calibrated to the circumstances at each location.  Importantly, class members may be eligible for compensation for the arrest and additionally an amount for detention at the Detention Centre.

The arrest payments vary from a high of $16,000 for each class member arrested in the University of Toronto Gymnasium subclass, to $12,000 for each class member arrested in the Queen and Spadina subclass, to $11,000 for each class member arrested in the Esplanade subclass, to $5,000 for each class member in the Eastern Avenue and Parkdale subclasses (where the mass arrests involved a shorter duration, and less harsh conditions).

In addition, those who were held at the Detention Centre after arrest will be entitled to claim a further $8,700.00 as compensation for the harms and breaches of rights they suffered for that detention.

Thus, for example, a member of the Gymnasium subclass who was arrested at the U of T Gymnasium and then transferred to the Detention Centre (which would include all or almost all of the Gymnasium subclass) will receive $16,000 plus $8,700 for a total of $24,700.  A member of the Esplanade subclass who was transferred to the Detention Centre after arrest (such as Class Representative Thomas Taylor) will receive $11,000 plus $8,700 for a total of $19,700.

These amounts will be subject to the 10% deduction which is required in the circumstances by the Class Proceedings Act, 1992, for payment into the provincial Class Proceedings Fund.

In addition, these compensation amounts will be subject to a further 12.5% deduction as a contribution towards Class Counsel fees.

     Non-financial remedies in the Settlement Agreement

  1.  A public statement and acknowledgement by Toronto Police Services regarding the events of June 2010.

The Parties agreed that once this Settlement Agreement is approved by the Court, Toronto Police Services will issue a public statement with specific wording, which was agreed upon by the Parties after extensive negotiations.

The public statement by Toronto Police Services would include an acknowledgement by Toronto Police Services regarding the mass arrests that occurred, and regarding the conditions at the Detention Centre.

Although the specific wording of the public statement has been agreed upon by the Parties, the release of the statement is conditional upon, and will only become effective upon, approval of the overall Settlement Agreement by the Court. The Parties therefore agreed that the exact wording of the proposed public statement will be kept confidential until Court approval of the Settlement Agreement. 

          2.    A public commitment by Toronto Police Services towards various detailed measures and improvements regarding policing of future public demonstrations.

The non-pecuniary measures in the Settlement Agreement include a Schedule to the agreement setting out detailed provisions and standards regarding aspects of the policing of public demonstrations in the future which Toronto Police Services “will take reasonable and appropriate steps, including in planning and training, to put into effect”.  These standards relate to the topics of:

    1. “Detentions and Arrests During Demonstrations”,
    2. “Containment”,
    3.  “Breach of Peace”,
    4.  “Temporary Detention Centres” and
    5.  “Planning”.

3.   A programme to expunge class members’ police records arising from June 2010.

Since Class Representatives and class members believe that they were wrongfully detained or arrested for having exercised their rights to public protest, and many have serious concerns about being affected in the future (for example in employment, or in border crossings) by police records which they view as illegitimate, the Settlement Agreement includes a commitment by the Defendant to (in summary) make best good faith efforts to permanently delete or make inaccessible to the extent reasonably possible the records relating to the arrest or detention of eligible claimants.

A summary of the litigation and negotiation timeline in these lawsuits

The various specific steps and sequence of the court proceedings in these lawsuits can be found under Documents and Materials.  All in all, the Plaintiffs spent over six years in court in certification proceedings before achieving final confirmation, by the Supreme Court of Canada in November of 2016, on the threshold question of whether the claims would be certified as class actions, that is, that the claims could proceed on a class action basis.

The certification proceedings over the course of those six years were hard fought every step of the way, including at the original motion level, and at the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.  Both the Plaintiffs and the Defendant filed voluminous briefs of evidence and argument at every stage.

Class Representatives Good and Taylor worked closely with Class Counsel on all aspects of the litigation throughout the more than six years of litigation up to the point at which negotiations began.

At a Case Management Conference on June 29, 2017, the Parties reviewed with the Case Management Judge the very extensive scope of the documentary discovery and examinations for discovery that would be required in this matter.  As part of the discussion, one of the Parties expressed the view that given the number of witnesses (on both sides) required for a full trial, and the number of documents and video and audio recordings, a trial might require in the order of 100 court days.  The Case Management Judge suggested that an attempt to mediate a resolution of the case, with the assistance of a judge acting as mediator, would be appropriate and beneficial.

The assistance of Superior Court Justice Edward Morgan as a mediator was therefore arranged, who oversaw three days of intense mediated negotiations in June of 2018 and January of 2019.  At the January mediation, the Parties were able to reach a framework of an agreement on both the financial and non-financial issues.

A great deal of effort and time was required to continue to finalize many details, and to work out the details of a compensation administration programme and notice programme, and the court approval process. 

The Class Representatives and Class Counsel are therefore pleased at this point to recommend this “package” Settlement Agreement, which in their view is a very positive result for all class members, and for the public interest.  In conclusion, here are some of their thoughts at this time:

Ms. Good: “The terrifying way in which I and 400 others were suddenly and arbitrarily surrounded and held by riot police on a street corner for four hours in a freezing downpour changed forever the way I look at police, and continues to give me chills.  I believe that this Settlement Agreement does bring about some justice, and I hope, and I think, that our freedom of expression rights will now be better respected for a long time to come.”

Mr. Taylor: “For me and hundreds of others, being suddenly surrounded and held captive by frightening numbers of riot police when we had done nothing at all, going through violent and unlawful arrests, and then being thrown into a nightmare detention centre, was a stunning and horrifying experience.  I had never imagined that such a thing could happen in Canada, but that experience showed me how very fragile civil liberties are for so many of us.  I truly hope that this Settlement Agreement will help make sure that such a thing never happens again.”

Mr. Gillespie: “When these events happened many Canadians could not believe they happened in Canada. The settlement appears to fairly recognize through financial compensation, acknowledgements and reforms that they shouldn’t have happened and will never happen again”.

Mr. Klippenstein: “Canada had never seen anything like what happened at the G20 Summit, and hopefully it never will again.  We are hopeful that this settlement will bring some justice and some relief to class members, and that we all, including the police, can benefit in the future from the acknowledgements and commitments to policing improvements that are built into the Settlement Agreement”.

 

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