G20 lawsuit seeks $45M in damages
Jayme Poisson Staff Reporter
Office administrator Sherry Good made her media debut Friday. The 51-year-old is now the face of a G20 class-action lawsuit launched against the Toronto Police Services Board and the Attorney-General of Canada who represents the RCMP.
Filed Thursday in the Ontario Superior Court, the lawsuit seeks $45 million in damages for all those wrongfully arrested, detained, imprisoned or held by police during the G20 summit at locations across the city. According to Good’s lawyers, Murray Klippenstein and Eric Gillespie, the Ontario Provincial Police may be named at a later date.
“I’m just an ordinary person. I’m not an organizer, I’m not an activist,” Good told a news conference at Queen’s Park. “I just feel that what happened to me and to hundreds of others was very wrong.”
More than 1,000 people were detained during the summit after black-clad vandals broke away from peaceful demonstrations to smash windows and burn police cars. The 800 released without charges are the individuals the lawsuit is seeking to represent.
Good was approached by Klippenstein after posting her story on websites asking for G20 accounts.
“When I read her story, I could tell it really came from the heart,” Klippenstein said, adding that Good is representing hundreds of others with similar accounts.
On the evening of June 27, Good was caught by a police technique known as “kettling” when about 250 people — some protesters, others bystanders — were encircled by a wall of police officers at the intersection of Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave. She was walking home when she decided to join an informal demonstration.
Good said she was held in a downpour for hours with no food or access to toilets, and was “terrified” by police. She was later released but said she was so shaken up by the experience she couldn’t sleep that night, didn’t attend work the next day and had a panic attack as a result.
It wasn’t Good’s first protest of the week. On the Saturday, June 26, she joined the major protest that erupted into chaos. Good said she had nothing to do with any property destruction and decided to protest only because she had witnessed intimidation by police leading up to the G20 and wanted to exercise her “right to speak up.”
“The biggest consequence was that I lost all trust in police,” she said. “Now I am nervous when I see a police car. I consistently look over my shoulder.”
For Good, it is a privilege to represent all those detained without charge even though she feels the lawsuit “could be a difficult journey.”
The next step involves the court’s approval of the class-action lawsuit; a process Gillespie admitted could take longer than a year.
“We’re going into this with our eyes wide open,” said Gillespie of the long haul ahead. The legal team confirmed they are not getting paid for their services.
Those who wish to be involved in the lawsuit can contact the legal team or go through the website www.G20classaction.com.
Gillespie said the team’s reasoning behind launching a class-action lawsuit was to give individuals who may not otherwise have access to the justice system that access, and to encourage efficiency in the courts.
One person — Good in this case — can be the representative of all the others who were detained without charge.
Precedents include a similar lawsuit launched after mass arrests in Washington, D.C. in 2000 near the World Bank and International Monetary Fund buildings. The district was ordered to pay $13.7 million in damages to some 700 demonstrators and bystanders last month.
If the G20 class-action lawsuit gets that far, it would be up to the courts to divvy up any monetary award.
Klippenstein said a full judicial inquiry into police actions during the G20 is the only real solution, but that the intent of the lawsuit is “to help reaffirm our freedoms.”