Family of mentally ill man who died in Ontario jail launches $14.3-million lawsuit against province, guards

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The family of a mentally ill man who died following a three-hour confrontation at an Ontario jail is suing the province and guards at the facility, alleging correctional officers used excessive force leading to his death.

Soleiman Faqiri’s relatives claim an eye witness, who was housed in a cell near Faqiri, has new information that suggests correctional officers were allegedly responsible for his death.

“The Faqiri family has been waiting for years for someone to explain how this could have happened,” family lawyer Nader Hasan said in a news release Wednesday. “This is about truth and accountability.”

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Faqiri, who had schizophrenia, died in December 2016 after guards at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., pepper-sprayed and beat him after he refused to get out of the shower, according to a 2017 internal report by the Kawartha Lakes Police Service that refers to surveillance video.

The report, which was obtained by the Star in February 2018, described how officers forced handcuffs and leg shackles on the 30-year-old as they returned him to a segregation cell.

Faqiri was to be transferred to a mental health facility in Whitby.

A 2017 coroner’s report, which ruled Faqiri’s cause of death to be “unascertained,” found he suffered more than 50 injuries, including a bruised laceration on his forehead, and multiple bruises and abrasions on his face, torso and limbs.

Faqiri’s family on Wednesday filed a statement of claim seeking $14.3 million in damages, alleging cruel and unusual punishment, battery, negligence, and abuse of public office.

In a news release, Yusuf Faqiri said his family has been suffering since his brother’s death. “While in segregation, a place he never should have been, Soli’s mental health deteriorated significantly,” he said. “We are seeking accountability and justice for Soli.”

The Ontario Provincial Police recently reopened the investigation into Faqiri’s death, which had earlier been probed by the Kawartha Lakes Police Service with no charges laid.

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Veterans Affairs $165M gaffe headed to Federal Court in proposed class-action lawsuit

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A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against the federal government over the $165-million accounting blunder by Veterans Affairs Canada, CBC News has learned.

The court action, which has yet to be certified, was filed on Tuesday by former soldier Dennis Manuge, who successfully took the Department of National Defence to court a few years ago over the clawback of military pensions.

The new case involves the miscalculation of disability awards and pensions at the veterans department, a fiscal gaffe that went on for almost eight years, starting in 2002.

In 2010, the department discovered and corrected the indexing mistake, which affects about 272,000 elderly veterans, but quietly fixed the issue without notifiying those affected until the former veterans ombudsman blew the whistle last November.

Last week, CBC News revealed documents that detailed how the error happened and some of the assumptions bureaucrats used when the issue was buried.

The lawsuit takes aim at that aspect and said the government’s « conduct in failing to disclose the calculation error once discovered in 2010 is public misfeasance in office which should be censured by a damage award, » said a copy of the statement of claim.

Peter Driscoll, the lawyer representing Manuge, said the federal government knew what it was doing and acted unlawfully.

« We say that there is a duty, among other things, upon the government to disclose such an error, make good on that error in a transparent way, and that’s what they failed to do, » he told CBC News in an interview.

Repayments coming 2020

Manuge, who was collecting disability benefits during the period in question, said he believes someone needs to held accountable for not reporting the initial mixup.

« Any Canadian can understand a mistake, but just come out and say, ‘Listen, we made a mistake, this is what happened and here’s what we’re doing to fix it,' » he said in an interview Wednesday.

The Liberal government dodged questions last week about whether it would investigate.

« If Veterans Affairs is not going to hold themselves accountable, if we cannot get a straight answer … then, you know, I am really confident that the Federal Court will find some answers for us, » said Manuge.

As part of owning up to the mistake late last year, the Liberal government promised it would reimburse those affected, but underlined the payments wouldn’t be made until 2020.

That, said Driscoll, is offensive.

« You know when a veteran owes the government money in the form of an overpayment and VAC benefits, or assistance, or whatever the case may be, they’re immediately required to pay it back, » he said.

2007 lawsuit

Driscoll said a number of veterans, in addition to Manuge, contacted their law office and claim that their attempts to get information about reimbursement out of service agents at Veterans Affairs have been met with obfuscation and the brushoff.

Driscoll said Manuge’s experience and perseverance through the previous court case involving the Service Income Security Insurance Plan meant he was the right person to front a class-action lawsuit.

Manuge was injured in an accident at Camp Petawawa, Ont. in 2001, just before being deployed to Bosnia. His condition forced him to leave the military two years later, and he suffered from lower back pain as well as bouts of depression.

At the time, his Canadian military long-term disability benefits were reduced by the amount of money he received in disability from Veterans Affairs.

He fought the clawback and filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government in March 2007, which took almost five years to make its way through the courts.

His lawyers won a victory in 2012, when the Federal Court said it was unfair of the federal government to treat pain and suffering awards as income.

The former Conservative government decided not to appeal and negotiated a $887-million settlement with the roughly 7,500 soldiers who were affected.

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Montreal firms mount class-action lawsuit against breast implant manufacturers – Montreal

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The year Judith Lépine turned 19, she says, was one of the most difficult of her life.

“I’m telling you [now] I want to live,” she said, weeping.  “I’m 25, I am not dead.”

But in her late teens, she thought of giving up.  The reason, she says, was suffering as a result of breast implants.


READ MORE:
Bowmanville woman wants Health Canada to push awareness of ‘breast implant illness’

When she was 16 years old, she had textured breast implants to correct breast asymmetry. The surgeon, she says, told her and her parents at the time that they were safe.

“I developed so many, so many health problems,” Lépine said.

For nine years, she suffered from a range of illnesses, from bouts of depression to excruciating pain.  But she says her doctor didn’t take her seriously.

“When I went to see him, he would say it’s all in your head,” she said.

WATCH: Canadian woman warns about risks of breast implants






It wasn’t until June 2018 that she discovered the problem was likely connected to the implants.  She had them removed and it was confirmed they had ruptured.

Several women have had similar experiences.  That’s why two Montreal law firms, LPC Avocats, and Tiger Banon Inc., have filed a class-action lawsuit.

“The defendants in this case are Allergan, Mentor and Ideal Implants,” explained Joey Zukran of LPC Avocats.

The companies, he argues, violated Quebec consumer laws by not informing consumers of the risks involved in using textured implants.


READ MORE:
Breast implants could cause rare cancer, FDA warns after 9 deaths (2017)

“Firstly, the serious risk of cancer, number one,” Zukran said, detailing the risks, “and number two, the fact that these textured implants have an increased risk of rupturing.”

Since filing the petition for the lawsuit a few days ago, he adds, numerous women have come forward.  Among other things, the lawyers are suing for the cost of the implants, which can cost up to $10,000, Zukran says.

Coincidentally, Lépine had her implants removed December 18th — the same day the the Allergan implants were banned in Europe.  She still has health problems and wants women everywhere to understand the risks.

“I plan to advocate for this for the rest of my life,” she said, wiping tears.

On its website, Allergan says, “Patient safety is Allergan’s highest priority and we continue to collaborate with clinicians, societies and global health authorities to advance research, understanding and awareness about breast implant effectiveness and safety.”

LPC Avocats is inviting women who believe they may have been affected by implants from any one of the three manufacturers, to register.

 

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Class-action lawsuit proposed on coerced sterilization in Alberta

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A proposed class action has been filed against the government of Alberta on behalf of Indigenous women who say they were subjected to forced sterilizations.

The lawsuit seeks $500 million in damages, plus an additional $50 million in punitive damages, and has been brought on behalf of all Indigenous women sterilized in Alberta without their prior and informed consent before Dec. 14 this year.

The statement of claim, filed on Tuesday, alleges Alberta — including senior officials and ministers — had specific knowledge of widespread coerced sterilizations perpetrated on Indigenous women.

It also alleges the government turned a blind eye to that conduct and breached its fiduciary responsibilities.

Nothing in the claim has been tested in court.

“As a result of the defendant’s acts and omissions, Indigenous women suffered… physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and psychologically,” the statement of claim says. “Coerced sterilization has been destructive to their health, family, relationships and culture.”

READ MORE: Survivors of forced, coerced sterilization demand accountability

It also refers to the proposed representative plaintiff May Sarah Cardinal and a sterilization procedure she allegedly underwent in a northern Alberta hospital in December 1977.

It says Cardinal was 20 years old and married when she went to the hospital to give birth to her second child, and she and her husband wanted to have more. It says the people treating her told her that a doctor had decided she should be sterilized so as not to have more children.

“She did not consent to this surgery,” it says. “There was no valid medical reason for the surgery.”

Celeste Poltak, a lawyer with the Toronto-based firm Koskie Minsky LLP, says that coerced sterilization of Indigenous women is “yet another dark chapter” in the relationship between governments and Indigenous Peoples.

“This court action is a powerful and practical means for finally achieving access to justice for the victims,” she said in a statement. “The litigation of this claim will afford the government an opportunity to both examine the failings that permitted this situation and provide meaningful compensation to the victims.”

Poltak’s firm, which is working alongside the Edmonton-based firm Cooper Regel, notes that Alberta’s Sexual Sterilization Act explicitly authorized forced sterilizations in the province until 1972.

After it was repealed, doctors and nurses in Alberta continued to perform coerced sterilizations, the firm said, alleging these actions were a product of systemic and institutional racism.

A proposed class action is also underway in Saskatchewan by Maurice Law, an Indigenous-owned firm, that names the Saskatoon Health Authority, the Saskatchewan government, the federal government and a handful of medical professionals as defendants.

It was launched in 2017 by two women each claiming $7 million in damages.

Earlier this month, Canada was ordered by the United Nations Committee Against Torture to stop the “extensive forced or coerced sterilization” of Indigenous women and girls — a finding that prompted calls for additional federal action by human-rights groups and the federal NDP.

All allegations, including recent ones made in Saskatchewan, must be impartially investigated and those responsible held to account, the committee said, adding the state needs to take legislative and policy measures to stop women from being sterilized against their will.

READ MORE: Feds won’t change Criminal Code to outlaw forced sterilization, despite First Nations outcry

Watch below: From December 2018 The federal government says it’s working to stop the forced sterilization of Indigenous women.






Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended his government’s response.

During a roundtable interview with The Canadian Press on Friday, Trudeau called the practice “heinous” while he stressed the importance of a working group of senior officials to oversee measures to improve cultural safety in health systems.

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Class action lawsuit proposed on coerced sterilization in Alberta

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A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against the Government of Alberta on behalf of Indigenous women who say they were subjected to forced sterilization.

The lawsuit seeks $500 million in damages, plus an additional $50 million in punitive damages. It has been brought on behalf of all Indigenous women sterilized in Alberta without their prior and informed consent before Dec. 14 of this year.

The statement of claim, filed on Tuesday, alleges the province — including senior officials and ministers — had specific knowledge of widespread coerced sterilizations perpetrated on Indigenous women.

It also alleges the government turned a blind eye to that conduct and breached its fiduciary responsibilities.

Nothing in the claim has been tested in court.

« As a result of the defendant’s acts and omissions, Indigenous women suffered … physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and psychologically, » the statement of claim says. « Coerced sterilization has been destructive to their health, family, relationships and culture. »

‘No valid medical reason’

The statement of claim also refers to the proposed representative plaintiff May Sarah Cardinal, and a sterilization procedure she allegedly underwent in a northern Alberta hospital in December 1977.

It says Cardinal was 20 years old and married when she went to the hospital to give birth to her second child, and she and her husband wanted to have more. It says the people treating her told her a doctor had decided she should be sterilized so as not to have more children.

« She did not consent to this surgery, » the statement of claim says. « There was no valid medical reason for the surgery. »

‘Another dark chapter’

Celeste Poltak, a lawyer with the Toronto-based firm Koskie Minsky LLP, said coerced sterilization of Indigenous women is « yet another dark chapter » in the relationship between governments and Indigenous Peoples.

« This court action is a powerful and practical means for finally achieving access to justice for the victims, » she said in a statement. « The litigation of this claim will afford the government an opportunity to both examine the failings that permitted this situation and provide meaningful compensation to the victims. »

Poltak’s firm, which is working alongside Edmonton-based firm Cooper Regel, notes Alberta’s Sexual Sterilization Act explicitly authorized forced sterilizations in the province until 1972.

After it was repealed, doctors and nurses in Alberta continued to perform coerced sterilizations, the firm said, alleging these actions were a product of systemic and institutional racism.

This court action is a powerful and practical means for finally achieving access to justice for the victims.-Celeste Poltak ,  lawyer

A proposed class action is also underway in Saskatchewan by Indigenous-owned firm Maurice Law. It names the Saskatoon Health Authority, the Saskatchewan government, the federal government and a handful of medical professionals as defendants.

It was launched in 2017 by two women, each claiming $7 million in damages.

Earlier this month, Canada was ordered by the United Nations Committee Against Torture to stop the « extensive forced or coerced sterilization » of Indigenous women and girls — a finding that prompted calls for additional federal action by human-rights groups and the federal NDP.

The committee said all allegations, including recent ones made in Saskatchewan, must be investigated impartially, and those responsible held to account. The state needs to take legislative and policy measures to stop women from being sterilized against their will, the committee said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended his government’s response.

During a roundtable interview with The Canadian Press on Friday, Trudeau called the practice « heinous » while he stressed the importance of a working group of senior officials to oversee measures to improve cultural safety in health systems.

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$600M class-action lawsuit claims police mistreatment in N.W.T., Yukon and Nunavut

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A teen in Tuktoyaktuk has launched a $600-million, class-action lawsuit against RCMP in Nunavut, N.W.T. and Yukon after he says he was assaulted and subjected to racial slurs after he was arrested at the age of 15.

Joe David Nasogaluak is the lead plaintiff in the suit, which seeks $500-million in damages and $100 million in punitive damages from the RCMP on behalf of Indigenous people who have been subjected to excessive force by RCMP in the three territories.

A statement of claim was filed in federal court on Dec. 19.

According to a press release from law offices Koskie Minsky LLP in Toronto and Cooper Regel in Edmonton, Nasogaluak’s claim alleges « systemic negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and breaches of sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. »

Kirk M. Baert, the lawyer leading the case, says Indigenous people are regularly assaulted by the RCMP « because of who they are. »

« This epidemic of assault amounts to state-sponsored harm against Aboriginal persons, » he states in the release.

Baert’s law firm, Koskie Minksy LLP, is one of the law firms involved in the $800-million Sixties Scoop settlement. 

Steve Cooper is also an attorney on the case. He said his team has interviewed a « small number » of people so far and has found approximately 12 cases that could end up part of the class action. 

« This is just the tip of the iceberg, » he said, adding he expects news of the statement of claim could prompt more people to come forward. 

« There are too often cases where people think they’re alone, » he said.

Cooper said that people interested in learning more can contact his firm at 1 800 994 7477 or at steve@cooperregel.ca.

It is not known who else has joined the class-action lawsuit.

A request for comment from the RCMP has been acknowledged by the police, but an interview has not been granted.

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Allstate tried to cut off auto insurance sales to drivers in Brampton, lawsuit claims

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An Ontario woman is taking one of the province’s biggest insurance providers to court, alleging she was fired for pushing back on the company’s « discriminatory » effort to stop selling plans to drivers who live in Brampton. 

« It’s just wrong. There is no other word for it, » said Medha Joshi. « I said it was wrong, and I was reprimanded for it. »

Late last month, Joshi and her legal counsel, Andrew Monkhouse, filed a suit in Ontario’s Superior Court against Allstate Insurance Canada. Until October, Joshi held the position of agency manager at the company, where she presided over a sales team working out of Allstate’s Milton location.

She was initially hired by Allstate in 2012, though she left for number of months in 2014 to live in the U.K. 

Joshi says that in the late summer, after returning to work from a medical leave for treatment of a number of health conditions diagnosed several months earlier, she learned of an unwritten managerial directive to stop offering auto insurance policies to residents of Brampton. 

« It was very clearly said, in so many words, that there is a lot of fraud that happens in Brampton. That there is a very high number of claims and a very high number of fraudulent claims, » she said in an interview from her home in Rockwood, Ont., near Guelph. 

The explanation did not add up to Joshi. As a veteran in the industry, she had previously worked in downtown Toronto, Kingston and Brampton, before ending up in Milton.

« People are people. There was nothing that walked in through the door in Brampton that was different than any place else, » she said. 

It was clear, she alleges, that the directive targeted visible minorities.

« We know the community that resides in Brampton, and they are visible minorities, » Joshi said. 

The all-comers rule

Relatively high auto insurance are a perennial political issue in Brampton. According to insurance comparison site Kanetix.ca, drivers in the city regularly pay higher premiums for their policies than surrounding jurisdictions. In 2017, for example, Brampton drivers paid 70 per cent more per month for their insurance than the provincial average. 

And it is true that insurance companies have the prerogative to charge varying premiums for people of different ages and genders. However, increases and decreases to insurance premiums are regulated by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FISCO) — a company cannot unilaterally change rates. 

But what Allstate was trying to do was different, according to Joshi and Monkhouse. 

Insurance companies operating in Ontario follow what is known as « the all-comers rule. » If an applicant meets a set of criteria laid out by providers and approved by FISCO, they cannot be denied insurance, regardless of where they live or their ethnic background. 

Lawyer Andrew Monkhouse said the case could encourage individual residents in Brampton to launch their own human rights complaints against Allstate Insurance Canada. (Michael Cole/CBC)

« I think it is wrong to be so brazenly biased toward an entire community, » Joshi said. « I didn’t know how, in good faith, to go deliver this direction to my team, to deliver this message that I couldn’t stand behind. »

Those above her in the company made a point not to write any of the new policy down, she alleges. The harder she pushed to get clarification, or to have a manager put into words how the policy should be communicated to staff, the more isolated she became, Joshi said.

« I could not seem to get meetings with my manager, I could not seem to have weekly discussions with my manager. He ‘wasn’t available.’ He wouldn’t respond to emails. »

‘I also needed my benefits’

She admits that despite her own reservations about the alleged decision to cut off new policies in Brampton, she did try to compromise with her superiors. 

« While I was having conversations, I also needed my benefits. I also needed my company, my organization, to support me in my time of need. And not for a second did I think I would be penalized in such a manner. »

Finally, at what was supposed to be a routine meeting with her manager, her job was terminated. Joshi alleges she never received any prior warnings and that she was given no possible recourse after the fact.

Allstate claimed that she had taken part in an underhanded effort to have another employee transferred to a different location — an allegation that Joshi denies. 

She and Monkhouse are seeking some $600,000 in total damages from Allstate for wrongful dismissal and violations of the Ontario Human Rights Code. 

Allstate Insurance Canada did not respond to CBC Toronto’s request for comment. The company has, however, indicated to the court that it intends to mount a defence. Monkhouse said he expects Allstate to file a statement of defence, laying out its case against Joshi early in the new year. 

Monkhouse said the case would lead individual Brampton residents to launch their own human rights complaints against Allstate. 

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Judge certifies $600-million class-action lawsuit on behalf of former residents of Ontario’s training schools

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An Ontario Superior Court judge has certified a class-action lawsuit seeking $600 million in damages against the Ontario government on behalf of former residents of the province’s training schools.

The certification order, signed by Justice Danial Newton in Thunder Bay and released Tuesday, defines the class as all individuals who resided at 13 of the province’s training school facilities between Jan. 1, 1953, and April 2, 1984.

A look at what is left of Pine Ridge Training School in Bowmanville, Ont. The provincially-run training school operated in the 1970s. On Tuesday, a judge certified a $600-million class-action lawsuit against the Ontario government on behalf of former residents of the province’s training schools.
A look at what is left of Pine Ridge Training School in Bowmanville, Ont. The provincially-run training school operated in the 1970s. On Tuesday, a judge certified a $600-million class-action lawsuit against the Ontario government on behalf of former residents of the province’s training schools.  (Randy Risling / Toronto Star file photo)

“This is an important milestone for the boys and girls from the training schools,” said lead plaintiff Kirk Keeping in a statement issued by Koskie Minsky, the law firm representing him and other class members. Keeping alleges he was sexually, physically and psychologically abused while attending Pine Ridge Training School in Bowmanville in 1968 when he was 15.

“We have all lived with this for years and we are glad this case is moving forward,” he said.

Training schools were institutions set up and operated by the provincial government to house and educate thousands of children between the ages of 8 and 16 who were deemed by the courts to be “incorrible” or “unmanageable.” Children sent to training school need not have committed any crimes; transgressions such as petty theft, truancy, or running away from home could land a child in training school. Many children sent to the institutions came from abusive or poverty-stricken homes.

A Star investigation published last year revealed that the provincial government has secretly settled more than 200 individual lawsuits launched by former training school residents who alleged horrifying treatment at the hands of school employees. Former students interviewed by the Star alleged they were raped, beaten and put in solitary confinement by staff members, among other abuses they say they suffered.

The Star’s investigation also revealed that provincial officials warned the government — in one case as early as the late 1960s — that students were being mistreated at the institutions, but that these warnings appeared to have been ignored. The last training school closed in 1984.

“The allegations of abuse by the province are quite frankly shocking,” Jonathan Ptak, a partner at Koskie Minsky and the lead lawyer for the class, said in a statement Tuesday. “We are pleased that the case now has been certified as a class proceeding, so that we can now litigate this case on the merits. We will continue to push forward as quickly as possible and to seek access to justice for the thousands of survivors of the Ontario training schools.”

The next step in the case, he said, will be to return to court to determine how to provide notice to class members that the action is proceeding. Class members will then have the opportunity to opt out if they wish. Ptak said records filed by the province in the case show there were about 21,000 former residents of training schools.

The lawsuit, which seeks $500 million in damages for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and vicarious liability, as well as $100 million in punitive damages, was certified in Thunder Bay, where lead plaintiff Keeping lives.

Among Keeping’s allegations in the statement of claim, which was filed in Dec. 2017, were that he was sexually abused by two Pine Ridge training school employees: a female kitchen worker who allegedly took Keeping, who was a virgin, into a large cooler and had sex with him; and a male employee working at the school’s dairy farm who allegedly performed oral sex and “simulated sex” on Keeping.

It also alleges he was put in a locker by staff members and hit with running shoes when he misbehaved.

“The children who resided (in training schools) were vulnerable and powerless and due to the Crown’s systemic failure, were subjected to a toxic environment in which physical, sexual and psychological abuse was widespread,” reads the statement of claim.

As of publication time, the Ministry of the Attorney General had not responded to a request for comment.

Kenyon Wallace is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @KenyonWallace or reach him via email: kwallace@thestar.ca or phone 416-869-4734

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Everton Brown says police beat him. Thanks to a ‘watershed’ ruling, his lawsuit can’t be tossed for missing a deadline

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Everton Brown always intended to sue the Woodstock police officers he alleges beat and repeatedly shocked him during an arrest five years ago, but he took the advice of his criminal lawyer and waited until the charges against him played out in court.

The criminal case ended more than two years later with no convictions and all of the serious charges against him — obstructing and resisting police, and possession of crack cocaine and proceeds of crime — being withdrawn, provided he agree to a peace bond that involved him “keeping the peace” and staying out of Woodstock for a year.

In May 2016, sue, he did, launching a $1.75-million suit alleging he was assaulted, illegally arrested and detained and illegally searched. The 51-year-old London man did so more than two years after the alleged assault by police, placing it beyond the normal two-year limit for making such a claim.

For that reason, police argued his suit should be tossed.

But recent court decisions by the Ontario Court of Appeal — and the Supreme Court of Canada decisions not to revisit them — came down in Brown’s favour, as well as for another man facing a similar scenario, and also involving the Woodstock Police Service.

Essentially, the two-year limitations clock in cases like this now starts ticking when criminal charges are disposed of, rather than at the date of an arrest. The rulings reverse a standard that effectively prevented some victims of alleged police abuses from being able to seek compensation in civil court.

Before these rulings, potential complainants would have to proceed through the notoriously slow criminal court system in order to first see any evidence against them that might inform their decision to sue — while also defending against those charges.

In September, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear appeals by police in Brown’s case and that of Robert Winmill, affirming a 2017 Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Winmill’s case that “it makes sense” for people to focus on criminal charges and “deal with those before making a final decision about a civil action” against police.

The court of appeal in March found Brown’s case to be a “mirror-image” scenario to Winmill’s.

“It’s a watershed case,” says Toronto lawyer Osborne Brownwell, who is representing Brown in the civil case. “In my view, it sort of levels the playing field. The court took the view that it would be unfair for him to have to sue the police while he’s being prosecuted, and that’s why this case, from my perspective, is a significant achievement.”

Barry Swadron, who represented many clients suing police during his legal career, agrees. Civil suits against the police are extremely expensive, he says, and an accused person who endures police misconduct “may well be reluctant to commence a lawsuit against the police while he is in jeopardy of being convicted, and consequently likely to lose that lawsuit. Allowing more time to sue in these instances is a welcome development.”

The lawsuits can take years to play out, often costing plaintiffs tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, win or lose.

Kent Roach, a University of Toronto law professor and legal scholar, says delaying the start of the clock is “probably appropriate because it’s a lot to expect an accused to fight this kind of two-fronted war — civil and criminal — at the same time, and many causes of actions will really depend upon whether the police have been able to make out their charges.”

Brian McCall, the lawyer representing Woodstock police, would not comment on the specifics of the case because it is before the courts, but said in an email to the Star that overturning the standard that the limitation period begins to run at the date of arrest exposes officers to “civil claims which may otherwise not have proceeded.”

None of Brown’s allegations have been proven in court. In a statement of defence, Woodstock police deny Brown’s allegations of assault and illegal arrest and detention. They say police had information Brown was a suspected drug dealer, that the force used to arrest him was necessary, and that police used the Taser to control him while he resisted arrest.

On recent November afternoon, Brown sat in a boardroom at Brownwell’s North York law offices to talk about his precedent-setting case, and the impact it has had on his life.

Brown came to Canada from Jamaica in the late 80s and early 90s as a seasonal migrant farm worker picking tobacco and apples. He found love and Canada become home.

On Feb. 15, 2013, he drove from London to a multi-unit house in Woodstock, where he said a friend’s husband had offered to help him install a car stereo.

According to his statement of claim, Brown was in his car outside the address, when he suffered “shooting pain” followed by an anxiety attack stemming from a car accident two years earlier.

He told the Star he stayed inside the car in order to deal with the attack, using breathing techniques he learned from a psychologist.

That’s when, according to his suit, he was “accosted by a number of individuals, whom he believed were thugs trying to rob him” — men he later discovered were four plainclothes police officers. One officer, he alleges, drew his gun and pointed it at him.

Brown alleges in the statement of claim that he was struck repeatedly by fists and “forcibly dragged” out of the car, causing injuries to his head, face and throat, “thrown on the snowy ground,” and, while face down, “tasered at least four times.”

“If it wasn’t for God himself, I wouldn’t be living today,” Brown told the Star. “It felt like my heart was going to cut off. I couldn’t breathe.”

Brown alleges in his suit that, in addition to the other injuries, his jaw was locked and he asked to be taken to hospital but that didn’t immediately happen. Instead, he was handcuffed, booked at the station and held overnight before being taken to hospital the next day. He also alleges police deliberately broke a walking stick he needed to get around.

Police, in their statement of defence, do not make any references to a request to go to the hospital, and say “no more force than was reasonably necessary” to make the arrest. They allege Brown refused to get out of the car and “put something in his mouth.” After officers pulled him from the vehicle, police allege Brown “spit the object in his mouth into the snowbank,” which was later determined to be crack cocaine wrapped in plastic.

Police also allege the address Brown was visiting was a “location where drug dealing occurred” and that Brown was “associated with known drug dealers” and that “his negligence” caused any damages he sustained.

Brown says in his suit that he “was not at all involved” in drug dealing. He told the Star “there was no spit out. There was no drugs.”

Brown’s suit states that he learned at his trial that police had been watching the address and had a “suspicion” that Brown was selling drugs to a “certain person.” He also points out in his suit that the house is divided into four apartments. He was there to visit tenants who lived upstairs, and the “person being targeted by the police apparently lived” downstairs, he states in his suit.

Police had been wiretapping their target, Brown states in his suit, and there was “no evidence whatsoever that he had been involved in criminal activity.”

After five days of evidence at his trial, including Charter applications, the Crown, according to court records, approached Brown’s lawyer with an “offer” to end the criminal case against him with the peace bond and withdrawal of charges.

In his suit, Brown alleges the peace bond was “thrust upon him.”

Brown told the Star he would like to see the officers involved disciplined.

He said he now has problems remembering things and needs help to keep his house and yard in order. When he sees police driving behind him, “I feel intimidated. It brings me back there. To that day, when they pulled me out of the car.”

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Jim Rankin is a reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @Jleerankin

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Veteran seeks class-action lawsuit over ‘disastrous’ transfer of Ste. Anne’s Hospital – Montreal

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A veteran is seeking authorization to file a class-action lawsuit over what is being described as a “disastrous” transfer of the Ste. Anne’s Hospital from the federal government to the Quebec government.

The proposed lawsuit, which was filed in Quebec Superior Court on Tuesday, claims the same level of care and service has not been maintained since the province took control of the hospital in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue in April 2016.

“The transfer has been disastrous and it is the veterans that are paying the price,” reads the statement from the lawyers representing the veterans.

READ MORE: Quebec takes control of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue veterans hospital

Wolf William Solkin, a Second World War veteran who has resided at the hospital since 2013, is the petitioner behind the proposed class-action lawsuit against the provincial and federal government.

It is also filed against the the Montreal West Island Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre (CIUSSS), the regional health authority which manages the hospital.

The demand is asking for compensation for all 166 veterans at the hospital. It is also seeking compensation for the heirs of the residents who resided there on April 1, 2016 and have since died.

As a result, the proposed lawsuit is asking for the approximate $30 million it claims was provided in the transfer agreement from Ottawa to Quebec, as well as moral damages.

The proposed class-action lawsuit alleges care and services provided to the veterans “were of an exceptional and consistently high level and quality” until the Ste. Anne’s Hospital changed hands.

It claims there has been a “serious decline or disappearance of the care and services” since April 2016.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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