The Ottawa residents’ class action will proceed after the Mothertruckers tried—and failed—to honk it out of court.
It would be wise of the defendants to start paying up and settling now.
Because if they wait until certification of the class action, which seems inevitable, the settlement price will go up—a lot.
Paul Champ@PaulChampLaw Feb 6, 2024:
Today the Court dismissed the ‘Anti-SLAPP’ motion by the defendants in the Convoy class action. Court found the plaintiffs have a “meritorious case” and there is evidence organizers intended to disrupt daily life in the city indefinitely thru extreme noise, blocking streets etc.
Judge tosses motion to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit against convoy participants by Aedan Helmer, Feb 06, 2024, Ottawa Citizen
Downtown Ottawa residents and business owners who launched a proposed class-action lawsuit against organizers of the 2022 convoy protest moved one step closer to having their day in court as a judge tossed a defence motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
“There is sufficient basis to conclude that the plaintiffs have a meritorious case,” Superior Court Justice Calum MacLeod said in his ruling, released Monday.
“There is evidence that plaintiffs had difficulty accessing their properties and that business was disrupted, reservations cancelled, and revenue negatively impacted.”
Lawyers for the defendants, including Tamara Lich, Chris Barber, Pat King and other named convoy participants, had sought to dismiss the lawsuit with a motion under Ontario’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) legislation.
The judge cited the Supreme Court definition as lawsuits “initiated against individuals or organizations that speak out or take a position on an issue of public interest … (used) as an indirect tool to limit the expression of others.”
MacLeod dismissed the defence motion, saying, “I am not persuaded that this action should be halted under the anti-SLAPP provisions.”
Paul Champ, the Ottawa lawyer who launched the $300-million lawsuit on behalf of Zexi Li and other named plaintiffs, said Tuesday he was pleased with the outcome.
“Another attempt by the defendants to derail this litigation has proven unsuccessful. We remain committed to obtaining justice and redress for the people of downtown Ottawa,” Champ said in a statement.
In his ruling, MacLeod said the pending lawsuit “pits the rights of individuals to use of their property and public streets, to carry on business and to earn a living, against the rights of protestors to make their grievances heard and to utilize pressure tactics against the government in the national capital.”
The civil action is centred on questions of liability and damages, the judge wrote, and has “little or nothing to do” with the related ongoing criminal cases involving convoy participants.
The civil case, likewise, “is not in any way affected by the recent decision of the Federal Court about the use of the Emergencies Act by the Government of Canada,” the judge wrote.
Earlier this year, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley ruled the government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act during the convoy demonstration was “unreasonable and unjustified.”
Mosley said he could not support a conclusion that the 2022 convoy created “a critical, urgent and temporary situation” that was national in scope and could not be dealt with effectively under any other Canadian law.
In his ruling this week, MacLeod recognized the “serious question” at the heart of the pending civil case and said it was in the public interest for the courts to determine its conclusion.
“It appears beyond doubt that the question at the heart of this litigation is a serious question: To what extent does exercise of the right to protest protect those involved from liability to residents whose lives were disrupted … Is it reasonable for denizens of downtown Ottawa to anticipate a certain level of disruption because of their proximity to the seat of government?
“It is likely these rights overlap,” MacLeod wrote. “Even Charter-protected rights are not absolute. It may be, however legitimate the activities of the protesters may be determined to be by courts, the participants remain liable to those who suffered damage as a result of the manner those activities were carried out.
“It is in the public interest for those questions to be determined by the courts.”
Lawyers with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms representing the defendants in the civil action did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.
MacLeod said JCCF lawyer James Manson presented “extremely thorough” arguments to dismiss the lawsuit and the judge acknowledged there were several lines of defence available to the defendants.
“The evidence shows that some of the defendants will deny any concerted plan or any intention to cause harm. Some will deny that they engaged in any tortious (wrongful) activity,” MacLeod wrote.
“They will deny that the plaintiffs suffered any significant damage and will require the plaintiffs to prove their claims. There are allegations that all activities were lawful and were in furtherance of the right of peaceful protest.”
The judge acknowledged it was “plausible” the defence could succeed and said “it is always possible” the plaintiffs would fail to prove their case once the matter reached trial.
No statements of defence have yet been filed and, the judge said, “It cannot be said on the limited evidentiary record available … that any of the potential defences are likely to prevail.”
The proposed class action seeks compensation for “private and public nuisance,” alleging Ottawa residents suffered due to diesel fumes and the blaring of vehicle horns, while businesses and employees lost income during the three-week protest.
The suit seeks $60 million in general damages “for pain and suffering and psychological distress,” special damages of $70 million for business losses and $150 million for lost wages in addition to other punitive damages. Claims made by the plaintiffs have not yet been tested in court.
The lawsuit is still awaiting certification as a class action.
If this was Indeginouise people..it would have been cleared off in 1 day..but a bunch of white truckers.? .im just hoping..that all Canadians back this lawsuit against these Organizers…it was a horrific situation for the Ottawa businesses and the citzens of Ottawa.
Got to say..this is a victory for the Ottawa citzens that became a city of siege..and lawfulness during this so called Freedom convey. Thank you..To Mr.Champ..for fighting for the Ottawa Citzens
This is true. In November 2020, about a dozen Black and indigenous protesters erected tents at the corner of Laurier and Nicholas near the U of Ottawa and two days later police went in at 3AM and dispersed the demonstration and charged them all with mischief to property.
Fully support this lawsuit and its objectives. Ottawa people are decent law abiding people and they were harassed by these “whatever’s”. They tried to wrap themselves in the Canadian flag but they are silly and ridiculous. If they tried this stunt down South in a Texas neighborhood and trespassed on private property- we all know how American citizens deal with that. They got away because it is Ottawa.
Of course if Palestinian protestors or Black people or Indigenous people had blockaded the road – we all know that would have been cleared up by the authorities in less than an hour!!
100%…BUT a bunch of white truckers where able to lay a unlawful occupation of the city.Ottawa..without any intervention for the Ottawa police force..
A $300-million class-action lawsuit filed against Freedom Convoy protesters, donors and organizers on behalf of downtown Ottawa residents and businesses is moving forward after a judge ruled against a motion filed by the defendants.
Superior Court Justice Calum MacLeod heard arguments in December This ruling was released so quickly compared to the various judges’ rulings in my case, e.g. supreme court of Canada took a year and day (the self regulator of judges has 6 months limit to release rulings) to release their ruling on a much more simple preliminary matter in my case for and against a motion brought under anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) legislation.
The legislation serves to protect people from vexatious lawsuits filed to silence opponents through legal and financial intimidation. Convoy organizers filed the motion in an attempt to have the lawsuit tossed, arguing it amounted to an attack on freedoms of expression.
Lawyers representing the defendants, who include Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, argued political expression is fundamental to society.
But in his decision released Tuesday, MacLeod sided with residents and businesses by dismissing the motion.
He wrote that the case pitted the rights of individuals to use their property and public streets against the rights of protestors to make their grievances heard by using pressure tactics against the government.
Plaintiffs’ case ‘meritorious,’ judge finds
The defendants argued that because their use of free expression was in the public interestYa, only in the interest of fucker truckers serving their Putin/USA GOP donors/handlers, the plaintiffs did not meet the threshold required to launch a lawsuit.
MacLeod disagreed, writing in his decision that the plaintiffs have a “meritorious case.”
“There is evidence that certain plaintiffs were subjected to what they contend to have been extreme amounts of noise, horn honking, incessant diesel fumes and other pollution, blockage of the streets and intimidation. There is evidence that plaintiffs had difficulty accessing their properties and that business was disrupted, reservations cancelled, and revenue negatively impacted,” the decision reads.
While recognizing the defendants deny having had a common intention to block streets or pressure government by creating hardship on residents, MacLeod wrote it could still be concluded that disrupting daily life in the city is what organizers and participants were after.
“It cannot be said on the limited evidentiary record available on this motion that any of the potential defences are likely to prevail,” the decision says.
Paul Champ, the lawyer who is bringing forward the class action, said in a statement he was “pleased” with the outcome.
“Another attempt by the defendants to derail this litigation has proven unsuccessful,” his statement read. “We remain committed to obtaining justice and redress for the people of downtown Ottawa.”
Lawyers representing the defendants say they are reviewing the decision and did not have any immediate comment.
Related case and interesting twist:
Protester’s overturned acquittal could have impact on convoy protest case: expert, Superior Court Justice Narissa Somji ordered a retrial last week for Allen Remley, a convoy participant who had been acquitted on a mischief charge by Lauar Osman, The Canadian Press, Jan 31, 2024
An Ontario court’s order to retry a convoy protester could have implications for the ongoing trial of the protest’s two key organizers, an Ottawa criminologist says.
Superior Court Justice Narissa Somji ordered a retrial last week for Allen Remley, a convoy participant who had been acquitted on a mischief charge.
The court ordered a retrial after concluding Perkins-McVey didn’t adequately take the context of the protest into account.
That means the judge will have to apply a broader standard when the time comes to rule on Lich and Barber, University of Ottawa criminologist Michael Kempa said.
Lich and Barber are both accused of mischief, intimidation and several charges related to counselling others to break the law.
They organized a legal protest, their lawyers argue. Mischief occurred during the protest, but Lich and Barber did not take part, they say.
The Superior Court order makes clear that there are “several pathways” to a mischief conviction, Kempa said.
“And it goes beyond directly engaging in activities that directly blocks or prohibit people from using and enjoying property for its intended purpose.”
Protesters flooded into the capital in 2022 at the tail end of the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most said they were there to demonstrate against public health restrictions and vaccine mandates, though many also railed against the government in general.
The protesters stayed in Ottawa for three weeks, blocking downtown roads around Parliament Hill with big rigs and other vehicles, blaring horns at all hours, blasting music over loudspeakers and setting off fireworks in the street.
In Remley’s case, Perkins-McVey found the Crown had failed to adequately prove that he was engaged in mischief during the protest.
Police accused him of being involved in a “mobile gas station” — a children’s wagon filled with jerry cans. His truck was also illegally parked.
“Based on the evidence before me, the best we have is jerry cans in a wagon 10 feet away with dozens of people milling about,” Perkins-McVey said in her decision to acquit Remley last year.
“If (Remley had) been charged with parking on a one-way street in the wrong direction, so be it. But this is a Criminal Code offence.”
In the absence of more evidence, doubts persisted about whether he was committing a crime, or even shared the same aims or political beliefs as the protesters, she said.
Somji agreed that simply being at the scene wasn’t enough to prove guilt, but found the decision didn’t take into account “the evidence as a whole, including evidence of the ongoing protest.”
In another convoy-related case last year, Crown prosecutors successfully appealed an acquittal on mischief charges involving protester David Romlewski.
In that appeal, Superior Court Justice Adriana Doyle found the trial judge erred in Romlewski’s acquittal by imposing a higher burden of proof on the Crown than was necessary to reach a finding of guilt.
Justice Robert Wadden, the trial judge, had acquitted Romlewski after ruling he was not a trucker and didn’t bring a vehicle into the city, he was not a convoy organizer or in contact with organizers, and the judge said there was no documentary evidence linking Romlewski to the protest.
Prosecutors successfully overturned that verdict, with Justice Doyle saying Romlewski’s presence in a designated “Red Zone” during a highly-publicized police operation went beyond “mere presence,” and was “aiding and abetting” the mischief.
“Even if (Romlewski) was on the fringe, by his actions he was facilitating the continuation of the mischief,” Doyle wrote in her decision. “The trial judge improperly focussed on the absence of certain acts.”
The facts of the Lich and Barber case are slightly different, since they spent most of their time organizing the protest, fundraising and sharing updates on social media from a “command centre” set up in a local hotel.
The Crown has argued Perkins-McVey need only consider whether streets were blocked and property was interfered with, and whether Lich and Barber were party to those crimes.
While Remley’s trial lasted only three days, Lich and Barber’s case is still ongoing after months of testimony, evidence and legal wrangling.
Their trial paused last month and is expected to resume in March.
With files from Postmedia reporter Aedan Helmer.
Refer also to:
Anti Science, Anti Health, Anti Canada hatred and ignorance spreading, thanks to Take Back Alberta baffoonery, the fucker truckers and their dark money funding and lawyer-leading by Calgary’s vile ‘n wacko spy-on-judges Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (but only for them, not the rest of us, especially not anyone choosing health protections and wanting safe air to breath)
Fucker trucker lawyers, Kieth Wilson, Eva Chipiuk, and Justice Centre for [Con] Freedoms sued by fucker trucker accountant that helped gather money for the occupiers/abusers of residents, health care workers, public health, democracy, businesses, kids, travellers, Canada, decency, etc.