Frequently asked questions for class members and other people affected during the G20

Please note that the Sherry Good class action is at a very early stage in the court proceedings (see certification for more information).  If the class action is approved by the court (that is, if it is “certified,”) there will be further communications and formal notices to class members providing additional information.  Please be aware that who is considered a class member for the class action may be changed, further defined, or added to in the future (see Am I part of the proposed class? for more information).

 

#1 If I (or someone I know) might be a class member, what should I do to contact you?
#2 What is a class action lawsuit?
#3 How do I join?
#4 Am I part of the proposed class (i.e. included in the lawsuit)?
#5 Who is the plaintiff?
#6 Who are the defendants?
#7 What is the claim for?
#8 Who is representing the class?
#9 What will happen next?
#10 How do I know if I was formally charged with an offence?
#11 Does the class action only cover people who were with the representative plaintiff, Sherry Good at Queen and Spadina on June 27, 2010?
#12 What is required of potential plaintiff class members in terms of time, money and evidence?
#13 Do I need to collect documents or items related to my treatment by the police?
#14 Why are some people who were impacted by the G20 not included in the Sherry Good class action?
#15 What can I do if I think the police infringed my rights during the G20, but I am not part of the lawsuit?
#16 What are the consequences if I wish to start my own civil lawsuit against the police and I am a member of the proposed class action?
#17 How will any money awards be calculated and distributed to the class members if the court agrees that legal wrongs occurred?
#18 I was not personally impacted by the G20 policing, but I have videos and photos that may be helpful. Would you like me to send them to you?
#19 How can I get removed from the email list?

 

#1 If I (or someone I know) might be a class member, what should I do to contact you?

 

We would like to get in touch with as many potential class members as possible. We therefore invite you to contact us at [email address hidden - contact (at) g20classaction dot ca if you think you might be in the class described below. If you know someone else who might also be a potential class member, please pass along this information to him or her. Some of the people who were detained were likely homeless or from out-of-town; if you can bring this to their attention that could be a way to help.

It is very important to contact us if you were detained (e.g. “kettled”) but the police did not write down your name. Please email us to identify yourself if that happened to you.

If you contact us, please include 1) your name, 2) an email address, 3) where you were detained, 4) whether you were formally charged with an offence (“breach of the peace” is not an offence), and 5) whether the police took down your name. It would also be helpful if you include a description of what happened to you and/or copies of your best g20-related photos and video, but that is optional. We may make more specific requests for information in the future.

It may take us some time to respond to emails from class members. To help manage the high number of emails we have received, we will try to post answers to common questions on this website instead of sending many individual emails answering the same questions. We will provide more information to potential class members, but it may be some time before we do so while the initial stages in the lawsuit are dealt with. Please check back to this website periodically for updates.

By sending us your information you are not committing yourself to be part of this class action (i.e. you can still choose to “opt-out” later) and you are not directly “retaining” us (i.e. we do not become your personal lawyers).

We can be contacted by potential class members at:

[email address hidden - contact (at) g20classaction dot ca (please contact us by email if possible)
Fax: (416) 598-9520
Regular mail: 160 John Street, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2E5

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#2 What is a class action lawsuit?

 

A “class action” is a lawsuit that is brought on behalf of a group of people who have legal claims with some common issues. In a class action, a person called the “representative plaintiff” represents the interests of the group of people who are covered by the lawsuit. The people who are covered by the class action lawsuit are called “class members.” A class action can have a number of different groups of people covered by the lawsuit (i.e. sub-classes) and a number of different representative plaintiffs.

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#3 How do I join?

 

In Ontario, you do not need to do anything to join a class action lawsuit. You are automatically part of the class action lawsuit as long as you fit into the definition of the class of people who are covered by the lawsuit (see more below). This might be different from what you have seen on T.V. or in movies that take place in the United States.

However, if the class action is successful, you may eventually need to do something (e.g. send in a form) to claim your share of the money award. A notice would be sent to you explaining the details. To help make sure that we can send you this notice, please send us your contact information (email and postal address).

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#4 Am I part of the proposed class (i.e. included in the lawsuit)?

You are part of the proposed class if you were:

 (a)                Arrested or “kettled” in a police cordon at Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue on the afternoon of June 27, 2010, and eventually released without charge; or

(b)               Arrested or “kettled” in a police cordon at Hotel Novotel Toronto Centre on the Esplanade on the evening of June 26, 2010, and eventually released without charge; or

(c)                Arrested or “kettled” in a police cordon in the vicinity of the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre on the morning of June 27, 2010, and eventually released without charge; or

(d)               Arrested or “kettled” in a police cordon at Queen Street West and Noble Street on June 27, 2010, and eventually released without charge; or

(e)                Arrested at the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union Gymnasium on the morning of June 27, 2010; OR

(f)                Arrested and imprisoned in the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre beginning on June 26 or 27, 2010.

 If you fit into one or more of the above six categories you are included in the proposed class action. Please note that, for individuals that were detained in the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre, but not arrested or “kettled” at any of the other locations noted above (that is, not arrested at the locations in (a) to (e) in the above list), the class action seeks only to address your experiences at the detention centre and does not seek to address the circumstances surrounding your arrest, or any time before you were taken to the detention centre.

The group of people included in the lawsuit (i.e. the proposed class) may be changed, further defined, or added to in the future. For example, a court must approve the definition of the class before certifying the class action, and may add to, subtract from, or revise the persons included in the lawsuit. Also, the lawyers and representative plaintiff for the lawsuit may make changes to the description of the class in certain circumstances.

Breach of the peace is not a charge. For more information, see How do I know if I was formally charged with an offence?

You were “kettled” if you and a large group of people were surrounded by the police and not allowed to leave the area for an extended period of time.

You were arrested if, for example, you were held in a police vehicle for some time against your will, taken to a police station against your will, or held at the temporary detention centre on Eastern Avenue.

The above is only a summary of the proposed class. For the detailed and technical legal description please see the revised class definition in Schedule A of the Notice of Appeal.

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#5 Who is the plaintiff?

 

Any class action in Ontario must have one or more proposed representative plaintiffs.  Their role (amongst other things) is to work with the court, the legal team and the proposed class members to vigorously advance the claim.  The proposed representative does not need to have the same interests as all other class members but cannot have an interest that is in conflict with other class members.  The proposed representative plaintiff must be approved by the court.

The proposed representative in this claim is Sherry Good.  At the time of the G20 demonstrations she was 51 years old. She is employed as an office administrator and lives in downtown Toronto.  She participated in demonstrations on June 26th and June 27th.  She was detained by police on the evening of June 27th at Queen and Spadina.  For more information about Sherry Good please read the Statement of Claim.

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#6 Who are the defendants?

 

The lawsuit is against the Toronto Police Services Board, the Attorney General of Canada, Her Majesty The Queen in right of Ontario, and the Regional Municipality of Peel Police Services Board. For more information regarding the Defendants, and their roles in the G20 policing operation, please see paragraphs 4 to 8 and 14 to 24 in the Statement of Claim.

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#7 What is the claim for?

 

This class action lawsuit is brought to preserve and affirm the fundamental civil rights of those individuals who were unlawfully detained by police during the G20 meeting in Toronto.

The lawsuit is seeking $75 million in total damages ($35 million in general damages, $20 million in special damages and $20 million in punitive damages.)

The lawsuit will also be seeking court declarations regarding the rights and interests of the proposed class including Charter rights.

If the lawsuit is successful or settled at any time the court will direct and must approve how any monies are distributed to the class members.

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#8 Who is representing the class?

 

A team of lawyers acts on behalf of the proposed class.

Murray Klippenstein and his firm (Klippensteins, Barristers & Solicitors) have substantial experience with legal cases involving police action and Charter Issues.  Most notably, they acted for the family of Dudley George, who was shot and killed during a First Nations protest at Ipperwash Provincial Park. Klippensteins acted for the family in a lawsuit against Mike Harris and the Province and in the resulting public inquiry.

Eric Gillespie and his firm (Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation) have substantial experience with class action lawsuits.  Most notably, they have been acting for residents of Port Colborne in a class action against Inco Limited, which is the largest certified environmental class action in Canada to date.

The lawyers involved in the claim will only be paid if the claim is successful.  Any payment of legal fees must be approved by the court.

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#9 What will happen next?

 

In order to proceed as a class action all claims in Ontario must be “certified” by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.  The court will apply the legal requirements set out in the Class Proceedings Act, 1992 to determine if the claim is suitable to proceed as a class or group action.  This process can take more than a year.  Individual class members are usually not directly involved in this process.

Once the court has given its decision on certification this may be appealed, which may take several years.  If the claim is ultimately approved as a class action then there may be a trial on the merits of the claim.  This may extend the process by several more years.  This length of time will likely be similar to many other class actions.

At the same time, it is also possible that the claim may settle at an earlier stage.  This has happened in other class actions that appear to be similar to this claim (for example, see http://www.pershingparksettlement.com/)

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#10 How do I know if I was formally charged with an offence?

 

The police may have said that you are being “charged” with an offence, however individuals who have been formally charged with an offence will have to appear in court. If you have not appeared in court, and have not received a letter indicating a time and date for you to appear in court, then it is unlikely that you were formally charged with an offence. If you were told that you were being held because you “breached the peace” you are potentially still part of the proposed class.

Breach of the peace is not a charge. Instead, it is a special power that police have to detain people without charging them. Police can only lawfully detain people for a “breach of the peace” if there is a reasonably anticipated substantial risk of imminent actual or threatened harm to an individual. Even if you were told that you were being arrested for “breach of the peace,” you were not necessarily charged with an offence.

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#11 Does the class action only cover people who were with the representative plaintiff, Sherry Good, at Queen and Spadina on June 27, 2010?

 

The proposed class of people to be included in the Sherry Good class action is not limited to people who were “kettled” with Ms. Good at Queen and Spadina. Please see the section Am I part of the proposed class?, for details.

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#12 What is required of potential plaintiff class members in terms of time, money and evidence?

 

Though it is not required, we encourage you to contact us at [email address hidden - contact (at) g20classaction dot ca. We welcome and appreciate stories, videos, or pictures from people who were impacted by policing during the G20 weekend. We welcome stories or videos in French or English.

There is nothing required from potential class members at this time. We are compiling an email list of potential class members and other interested individuals. We will continue to send out email updates, and update the g20classaction.ca website FAQs, periodically and we will advise if there is anything required of the potential class members, or if we have any specific requests (e.g. for information). If you would like to be added to our email list please contact us at [email address hidden - contact (at) g20classaction dot ca.

If the lawsuit is successful, some members of the plaintiff class might have to prove what happened to them (e.g. damage suffered, or that they fit into one of the subclasses). Though this would not be required for some time (likely several years) it would be helpful to ensure that you keep any documents (video, pictures, written accounts of what happened), or any other items that are related to your G20 experience, in a safe location. For more information please see the section Do I need to collect documents or items related to my treatment by the police?

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#13 Do I need to collect documents or items related to my treatment by the police?

We recommend that potential class members keep any records or items related to the treatment they experienced during the G20 weekend. For example, potential class members should keep video, pictures, and written accounts of what happened. If you have not already done so, you should write down the details about what happened to you. It would help the class action if you send us a copy of those records, but please keep an original copy for yourself in a safe place.

Potential class members may eventually be reimbursed for specific losses related to their arrests, such as broken camera equipment or medical expenses. You should keep all receipts or other proof of any specific losses that you suffered because of your arrest. For example, you might want to keep: a written description of any lost/broken equipment, receipts for that equipment (if available), receipts from any medical expenses, records of days you were unable to work, any medical notes or records related to the arrest, and an overall list of any losses. If you suffered medically as a result of your treatment, you may want to get a note from a doctor.

This information may or may not eventually be used. Class members might not be compensated for some or all of those specific, individual losses. Class members might be given an average or proportional amount of compensation that is not directly based on those specific amounts. However, it is a good idea to keep these records just in case they are needed.

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#14 Why are some people who were impacted by the G20 not included in the Sherry Good class action?

There are people that were impacted by the events of the G20 who are not included in the Sherry Good class action. Please see “Am I part of the proposed class?” above, for details. We understand that the people that are not included in the proposed class may have suffered significant violations of their civil rights. By excluding these people, we do not mean to downplay or minimize what happened to them. We have excluded these individuals not because they were not wronged, but because we have decided, for reasons related to the nature and requirements of class action lawsuits, that this would be the best for the overall chances of the lawsuit.

Previously, many people who were charged with offences were not included in the lawsuit. In October 2011, we expanded the lawsuit to include people who were held in the G20 Eastern Avenue Detention Centre, including people who were charged with criminal offences, because of the common wrongful treatment they experienced.

The class members in the proposed Sherry Good class action share many common issues (e.g. similar experiences with police during the G20, and similar legal claims arising from these experiences), which, we believe, make the Sherry Good class action an effective way to hold the police to account for their alleged actions during the G20. We think that the Sherry Good class action can preserve and affirm the civil rights of all individuals who were arrested or detained during the G20, even though the class action does not include some of the individuals who were also impacted by the G20.

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#15 What can I do if I think the police infringed my rights during the G20, but I am not part of the lawsuit?

One option for individuals who are not covered by the Sherry Good class action is to start their own civil lawsuit. This may not be appropriate for everyone as it can be difficult, expensive and time consuming. If you are interested in starting a civil lawsuit, please consult with a lawyer.

Please note that if you are considering making a police complaint and starting a civil lawsuit, a recent court decision (Penner v. Niagara (Police Services Board)) ruled that, if it is not “unfair or unjust”, the court has the option to prohibit you from pursuing a lawsuit that covers issues that have been previously decided by a police tribunal as part of a police complaint process. However, there have been other court cases that have decided that making a police complaint does not prevent someone from pursuing a lawsuit that covers the same issues. Since it is unclear what the full implications of the Penner decision will be we recommend that you consult a lawyer regarding this question of lawsuit versus police complaint (what we lawyers like to call the legal concept of “issue estoppel”).

There are other ways that you can let the police know that you believe your rights were infringed:

Submit a formal complaint against any police force in Ontario, through the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OPIRD): https://www.oiprd.on.ca/cms/; or

Submit a formal complaint against the RCMP, through the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP: http://www.cpc-cpp.gc.ca/index-eng.aspx; or

Fill out a confidential Incident Report with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association at http://ccla.org/2010/06/29/resources-for-g20-related-complaints/; or

Send your story about youth interactions with law enforcement officers during the G20 to Justice For Youth and Children, which is collecting stories to create a report and recommendations: http://www.jfcy.org/.

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#16 What are the consequences if I wish to start my own civil lawsuit against the police and I am a member of the proposed class action?

If you are considering starting an independent civil lawsuit against the police based on their actions during the G20 weekend, you should speak with a lawyer about the benefits and risks of this option. Please be aware that, in general, most civil lawsuits must be started within two years of the date of the incident that gives rise to the legal claim (the “limitation period”). This means that, in most cases, you will have to officially commence the civil lawsuit in court within two years of the date of the incident, and sometimes sooner.  However, there are also special rules that apply once a class action has been started. Please note that this information is not legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer about these rules and the specifics of your case.

Even if you are covered by the Sherry Good class action as it is now, you may not be in the future, as the definition of who is in the plaintiff class can be changed by the Court of the lawyers. Please see the section, Am I part of the proposed class? for more information.

If the class action is approved (“certified”) by the Court, people that are included in approved definition of the class will have an opportunity to choose not to be a part of the class action (i.e. “opt out”). If you would like to pursue an independent civil lawsuit, you will have to exercise the choice at that time to not be part of the class action. You do not necessarily have to make this decision now. If the class action is approved (“certified”) by the court, there will be a formal notice to inform potential plaintiff class members of this option, and to provide additional information.

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#17 How will any money awards be calculated and distributed to the class members if the court agrees that legal wrongs occurred?

If the class action is successful, the Court will ultimately decide how any money awards will be distributed to the class members. In class actions generally, money compensation is sometimes awarded in equal or proportionate amounts to class members or to certain subgroups of class members. Sometimes compensation will be awarded based on the specific losses suffered by each class member. Sometimes a special claims process will be set up to determine how much each class member is owed.

At this stage, it is premature for us to speculate on how any money awards would be distributed in this case.

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#18 I was not personally impacted by the G20 policing, but I have videos and photos that may be helpful. Would you like me to send them to you?

Yes. We welcome and appreciate any stories, videos or pictures that you may have. Please send them to [email address hidden - contact (at) g20classaction dot ca. We welcome stories or videos in either English or French.

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#19 How can I get removed from the email list?

Please send an email to [email address hidden - contact (at) g20classaction dot ca with “unsubscribe” in the subject line and we will remove you from our list.

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Why are individuals that were formally charged with an offence excluded from the Sherry Good class action?

There are people that were impacted by the events of the G20 who are not included in the Sherry Good class action. Most notably, the Sherry Good class action does not include people who were formally charged (see “How do I know if I was formally charged” above). We understand that these people may have suffered the same or even greater violations of their civil rights as those actually covered by the lawsuit. By excluding people who have been formally charged, we do not mean to downplay or minimize what happened to them. We have excluded people who have been formally charged not because they were not wronged, but because we have decided, for reasons related to the nature and requirements of class action lawsuits, that this would be the best for the overall chances of the lawsuit.

The class members in the Sherry Good class action share many common issues (similar experiences with police during the G20, and similar legal claims arising from these experiences), which, we believe, make the Sherry Good class action an effective way to hold the police to account for their alleged actions during the G20. We think that the Sherry Good class action can preserve and affirm the civil rights of all individuals who were arrested or detained during the G20, even though the class action does not include individuals who were formally charged.