Court of Appeal of Quebec

Godin c. City of Montreal

August 08, 2017


Dutil, Vauclair, Schrager

Appeal from a judgment of the Court of Quebec dismissing an action in damages and punitive damages. Allowed in part. 

The appellants were part of a group of protestors that occupied Square Victoria in Montreal from October 15 to November 25, 2011. They refused to obey an order to evacuate and tied themselves together inside their camp. They passively resisted arrest, and the police had to use a certain amount of force to remove them from their tent and load them onto a bus that had been hired for the operation. Alleging, among other things, that they were victims of excessive force used by the police officers, the appellants sought damages and punitive damages, but the trial judge dismissed their action. On appeal, they reiterate that the use of invisible ink to mark them after their arrest, the taking of photographs, the use of handcuffs or plastic restraints, and the length of their detention infringed their rights and caused damage. 

The police officers committed no fault by using invisible ink to mark the appellants, and the appellants have also failed to demonstrate that they suffered any harm as a result. The officers also acted reasonably by photographing the appellants in order to preserve evidence. Moreover, they were justified in handcuffing them between the time they expelled them from the camp and when they released them. However, they should have removed the plastic restraints before letting the appellants go. In the circumstances, it was also reasonable to detain them in the bus for 20 to 60 minutes. After they were taken off the bus and the police officers had decided to release them without issuing any statements of offence, however, there was no longer any reason to keep them handcuffed and detained in the back of a police car to drive them to another part of the city. For the moral and material damage suffered by two of the appellants due to faults committed by the police officers, the Ville de Montréal must pay each of them $2,000. 

*Summary by SOQUIJ
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