Results | Aug 26, 2020

Success at the Court of Appeal in Precedent-Setting Decision on Malicious Prosecution in Policing Context

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On August 26, 2020, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the dismissal of Sergeant Rukavina’s civil action against the Ottawa Police Services Board and a number of police officers. The action arose out of a training accident involving the Ottawa Police Tactical unit and Tactical Paramedics which resulted in serious injuries and was subsequently investigated by the Special Investigations Unit. The claim alleges a group of officers conspired to provide false information to the Special Investigations Unit and to suppress  information, which resulted in serious criminal charges being laid against Sergeant Rukavina. The charges were stayed by the Crown  when evidence was revealed that contradicted the information provided to the SIU. Sergeant Rukavina sued for malicious prosecution and abuse of office. The action was dismissed on the basis that it fell within the ambit of the disciplinary procedure under the Police Services Act and the collective agreement because it was a “workplace dispute”. The Court of Appeal rejected the characterization of the PSA and collective agreement as a “complete code” for adjudicating all claims in the police environment. It held that where the allegation is the improper influence of a criminal investigation by fellow officers the “Superior Court is the only place where the claim can be adjudicated”. The decision has important implications for the tort liability of police officers in the workplace. Jonathan Lisus and Zain Naqi acted for the successful appellant. Case can be found here: C67247