Quebec Court of Appeal gives Gilbert Rozon go-ahead to appeal class-action lawsuit against him
20 women who say they were sexually assaulted or harrassed by Rozon filed the class action
Gilbert Rozon will be allowed to appeal the authorization of a class-action lawsuit against him after a judge in Quebec's highest court, the Court of Appeal, ruled in his favour today.
The class action was brought against the founder of the Just for Laughs festival on behalf of a group of 20 women, known as Les Courageuses, or The Courageous Ones, who say they were sexually assaulted and harassed by Rozon.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Donald Bisson authorized the class action in May 2018, acknowledging that class-action lawsuits have proven to be an effective tool in sexual assault cases because they have allowed hundreds of victims to have access to justice.
Rozon's lawyers argued the case did not meet the criteria for the authorization of a class action, however.
Court of Appeal Justice Mark Schrager questioned the lawyer for Les Courageuses on the filing of a class action against an individual rather than an institution.
Lawyer Robert Kugler said it's not uncommon to bring a sexual assault class action against an individual, citing the case of priest Raymond-Marie Lavoie.
He told Justice Shrager that it's important for sexual abuse victims to have access to class-action lawsuits because they tend to stay silent for long periods of time, and there could be many victims.
"When there is someone who abuses vulnerable people, they don't stop. They do it over and over and over again." said Kugler.
"They don't take a year off. That's why it's important to have class actions in such cases."
Justice Schrager ruled from the bench that Rozon will be allowed to appeal the authorization of the class action.
He gave Rozon's lawyer, Raymond Doray, until Oct. 1 to submit his briefing. Kugler will have to file his own before Nov. 20.
Justice Schrager said he will give the file top priority.
Rozon has not been criminally charged in connection with any of the accusations against him. A spokesman for the Crown Prosecutor's office would not confirm if prosecutors are studying a file against him.