Kent Class Action

Kent Class Action

The Claim – Ewert v. Canada (Attorney General) Updated: June 5, 2023

This case concerns the treatment and conditions of confinement of prisoners at Kent Institution during what has come to be known colloquially as the “Kent Lockdown”, which occurred between January 7 – 18, 2010.

The Lockdown was initially imposed by correctional authorities to facilitate an “exceptional search” of part of the prison after staff received an anonymous note alleging the presence of a “zip gun” within the institution. As a result of mistakes made in conducting the first search, a second search, this time of the entire prison, was approved.

This claim alleges that over the course of the Lockdown, all prisoners at Kent Institution were subjected to common treatment and common conditions of confinement that breached the law, including the prisoners’ ss.7 and 12 Charter rights, and caused them harm.

The common harm suffered by the prisoners includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • All prisoners spent multiple days confined in their cells without being permitted any tier time, yard time, gym time or any other free/personal time out of their cells whatsoever;
  • All prisoners spent multiple days without access to a shower;
  • All prisoners went without access to laundry facilities for the entire duration of thelockdown and two s.53 searches;
  • All prisoners had their visits and programs suspended and were not permitted access to a telephone (including to call legal counsel) for the duration of the lockdown and two s.53 searches;
  • All prisoners were provided only two meals per day for the majority of the lockdown and two s.53 searches;
  • All prisoners were subject to cell extractions in which, contrary to the plan created by the Warden of Kent Institution, TAC officers with firearms drawn accompanied ERT officers onto the ranges, were present at the cell doors of the prisoners during extractions, and escorted the prisoners down their respective ranges to be strip- searched;
  • All prisoners were subject to a strip-search during the second s.53 search (the claim alleges that the second s.53 search would not have been necessary had the first s.53 search been reasonably and properly planned and/or executed); and
  • None of the prisoners were provided a written communique advising of the reason for the lockdown and s.53 searches, the planned cellblock routines, nor of the anticipated timeframe for completion of the lockdowns and s.53 searches until January 14, 2010

(at the earliest), despite the fact that on January 8, 2010, Kent Institution management had provided ERT/TAC leadership printed copies of a communique, written to prisoners, advising them of the reason for the lockdown/s.53 searches and the planned cellblock routines, and had directed ERT/TAC leadership to distribute copies of the communique to inmates in the institution.

In addition to the common harm described above, the claim alleges many prisoners also experienced taunts, threats and/or assaults by ERT/TAC members, deprivation of medication leading to adverse health consequences, damage to personal property, and having guns pointed directly at them including through the food slots in their cells. This list is not exhaustive.

The representative plaintiff seeks damages (monetary compensation) on behalf of all class members. The representative plaintiff brings claims in negligence, misfeasance in public office, unlawful imprisonment, and seeks s.24(1) Charter damages for breaches of ss.7, 8 and 12 of the Charter.

FAQs

What is a class action?
A class action is brought by an individual (the “representative plaintiff”) on behalf of a larger group. A class action permits people with common claims to join together against a common defendant, rather than each having to proceed individually against that defendant. The purposes of class actions are judicial economy (class actions are more efficient than many individual actions would be), access to justice (for all individuals who have been harmed) and behaviour modification (to correct the defendant’s behaviour going forward).

What is the current status of the claim?
The plaintiff’s application for (re)certification was heard on November 29-December 1, 2023 and we await the decision of Mr. Justice Blok.

This claim had previously been certified by way or Order dated January 31, 2018. The defendant appealed this certification Order and sought to have the class action dismissed. The defendant failed in its attempt to have the claim dismissed. However, the BC Court of Appeal remitted the application for certification back to the trial court to address a number of issues with the certification Order.

See Ewert v. Canada (Attorney General), 2022 BCCA 131 (CanLII), <https://canlii.ca/t/jnkhw> The notice of civil claim was thereafter amended by consent on November 16, 2022 and the

defendant filed its response on January 4, 2023.

Second Further Response to Second Amended Notice of CiFurther Amended Not

Am I a member of this class action?
If you were a prisoner at Kent Institution at any time between January 7-18, 2010, you are a member of the class.

What do I have to do?
If the claim is (re)certified following the November/December hearing: (1) all prisoners who were at Kent Institution between January 7-18, 2010 will automatically be part of this class action; and (2) a Notice of Certification will be sent to all members of the class at the address that the defendant has on record for you. Plaintiff’s counsel will also post the Notice of Certification and provide other relevant information on this website. Among other things, the Notice of Certification will state that any class member who does not wish to be part of this class action may opt out of the class action by a specified date set out in the Notice of Certification.

While you do not need to do anything to be included in the class, please note if the defendant does not have your current address, you will not receive notice of certification. If you think the defendant does not have your current address, then it would be wise for you to contact our office to provide your address so we can pass it along when the notice of certification process begins to ensure you are included.

I still have questions…

If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach our office by emailing our paralegal Lisa Beaudet at lbeaudet@gstlegal.ca (subject line “Kent Lockdown Class Action”) or calling 1- 604-744-1066.

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