City ordered to pay former undercover cop $20K, warned by judge over lawsuit delays
Hamilton's legal services say city continues to deny liability in $6.75M lawsuit
The City of Hamilton has been ordered to pay a former undercover police officer $20,000 because of unnecessary delays in a lawsuit the officer brought against the Hamilton Police Services Board and former chief Glenn De Caire.
The amount awarded Paul Manning and his wife, Sabina, is to cover court costs and as a deterrent to the city against any further delays.
Manning filed a lawsuit in 2016 seeking $6.75 million in damages for what he describes as irreversible damage to his mental health in how he was treated by the service while he worked undercover and afterward. The suit also presents allegations of corruption and shady connections within the force.
For its part, the city denies liability and says it plans to continue defending itself.
But Manning claims the police service and city have made making his case difficult.
"Every single document that would validate my accounts has either been lost, purged or the city has claimed it never existed," he explained. "We're fighting a ghost."
The city is happy to burn through taxpayers dollars just to hide their malfeasance.- Paul Manning, former undercover police officer
The latest struggle, according to Manning and his lawyer, Otto Phillips, involved repeated requests for a sworn affidavit of documents from police.
Court documents reveal Manning first requested the affidavit back in April 2017 when he was representing himself. A full, signed package of documents was still not delivered after months of warnings and judge's order.
Finally, after Manning and his lawyer filed a contempt motion, the police complied. The documents show the service supplied affidavit on Feb. 13, 2019 — the day before the contempt motion was to be heard.
Delay 'makes no sense,' says lawyer
Phillips said the affidavit he and his client received was virtually the same as a document they had been sent previously, so he can't understand the delay.
"It makes no sense to us as to why it took so many months just to simply have a signature on the bottom of the page," he said, adding he's concerned it took so long to receive documents in a case making allegations about police corruption.
"It sounds like nobody in the Hamilton Police Service was willing to swear an affidavit about what documents they actually have in their possession," he explained. "That certainly raises our eyebrows."
City denies liability
A hand-written note from Ontario Superior Court Justice Antonio Skarica notes the contempt motion against police has been abandoned because they submitted the necessary documents, but warns against any more stalling.
"The respondents/defendants are cautioned that further delays, without good reason, will not be tolerated," he wrote.
Skarica also awarded $10,000 to cover the costs of the motion, along with another $10,000 in compensation and to deter any other delays.
"We acknowledge Justice Skarica's Order," wrote a spokesperson for the city's legal services section in an email to CBC News.
"The Defendants continue to deny liability as alleged by Mr. Manning in the Statement of Claim and are defending the litigation on that basis."
The Hamilton Police Service and its board did not respond to emails requesting comment on the judge's order.
Manning says he sees the judge's decision as acknowledgement the city tried to delay the process unnecessarily.
"The city is happy to burn through taxpayers dollars just to hide their malfeasance. There's no shame in it for them."
The allegations in Manning's lawsuit have not been proven in court.
In court filings on the lawsuit the city argues the suit is an "attempt to dress up a defamation claim" and that the details Manning included in his original filing are "scandalous, frivolous or vexatious or are otherwise an abuse of the process of the court."
Its statement of defence argues Manning goes beyond what is appropriate fo such a case and much of what is included is irrelevant to the case.