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Stanley Cup Rioters can Expect to Face Civil Suits from Businesses who Suffered Damage


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Like Todd Bertuzzi has learned, court proceedings do not end with a criminal conviction and sentence. Now businesses which suffered damage during the Stanley Cup riot are looking to sue the rioters and recoup some of their losses. And once there is a civil judgment it can continue indefinitely as long as it is renewed.

Trouble may not be over for rioters who finished serving time for crimes committed during the Stanley Cup riot, after at least one business confirmed it was preparing a lawsuit against them in small claims court.

And even rioters who were never charged may be asked to pay for a share of the estimated $4 million in damages and losses wracked up by businesses and individuals during the five hours of rioting throughout downtown Vancouver on June 15, 2011.

London Drugs, which suffered $350,000 in damages and $400,000 in looted goods, is planning to sue eight rioters and possibly more in small claims court, said CEO Wynne Powell.

“We’re going to pursue the individuals who did extensive damage and took expensive merchandise,” he said.

“Currently, I’ve got a list of eight people, but there were over 350 people in the store that night,” he said.

“We’ve got some very strong video of rioters smashing the store and leaving with goods. The list [of defendants] will grow.

“We may win, we may lose, but we want them to come to answer in court for their actions,” he said. “It’s not about the money. The main thing is we want to put out a message that you can’t take a community hostage.”

Powell said he’s going ahead with the suit, despite having had the losses reimbursed through an insurance claim because “it’s just a point of principle. You have to face the consequences of terrorizing our staff.”

Any money won in court would be paid back to its insurance company.

Powell said one person so far has voluntarily paid the company $500 for a camera he stole that night and he wouldn’t be sued.

“Obviously if anybody wants to make restitution, we would take that into account,” he said.

He said expressions of remorse during criminal sentencing won’t necessarily let looters off the hook.

“Let me put it this way: You just stole a $2,000 camera and you keep the camera; how sorry are you?”

Meanwhile, financial restitution orders through the courts have been rare for the more than three dozen rioters sentenced so far.

Two rioters, Alexander Peepre and Timothy Kwong, who both offered to pay restitution to the owner of a GMC truck that was one of the first to be torched, were ordered to pay him $2,000, but they were the exceptions. (Owner Roy Hermanus of Executive Fire and Safety wasn’t available for comment.)

About one-third were ordered to pay a standard $100 “victim surcharge levy,” and more than half were fined nothing, either because the defence asked for his client to be exempt because payment would be an “undue hardship” or the levy wasn’t mentioned during sentencing.

The surcharge, used to fund provincial victim services and not as direct restitution, can be raised at the judge’s discretion, which was done in a handful of cases, from $250 to $1,500, according to court documents.

“In the whole scheme of things, the victim surcharge is a joke, it’s peanuts, compared to what the victims suffered,” said criminology professor Darryl Plecas.

He said the lack of restitution in the courts forces victims to incur large costs in time and money to sue in civil courts.

But he said the odds are good for London Drugs and other businesses to successfully sue rioters, especially if they were convicted in court.

He said if rioters don’t pay, taxpayers will, and he said the city of Vancouver and ICBC should also sue rioters for damages.

There’s normally a two-year limit for filing civil suits in B.C. courts.


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