SAQ facing $67K lawsuit after alleged attack by employee

A Montreal man has filed a lawsuit against Quebec's government-run liquor board — la Société des alcools (SAQ) — after he says he was attacked by an employee and had all his photos on his phone deleted.

Man says employee attacked him and deleted more than 800 photos from his phone

'He twisted [my arm] behind my back, pushed me up against the display case," man says of SAQ employee.

A Montreal man has filed a lawsuit against Quebec's government-run liquor board — la Société des alcools (SAQ) — after he says he was attacked by an employee and had all his photos on his phone deleted.

Steven Merling contends in a lawsuit filed last month that he was attacked while trying to return wine at an SAQ on Rockland Road this past August.

Merling says he was talking with the store manager about whether the return could be completed when an employee joined the conversation.

Merling said the employee was "irate" and "rude," and so he asked him for his name so he could report his behaviour. When the employee refused, Merling took out his cellphone.

Steven Merling says he had his arm grabbed and bruised by an SAQ employee. (Submitted by Steven Merling )

"I snapped a photo of him...which he didn't like, considering that he grabbed my arm, twisted it behind my back, pushed me up against the display case, and really was twisting my wrist, to the point that he left bruises," he said.

Merling says the manager looked on without intervening.

A colleague of Merling's who was with him in the store called the police. At that point, Merling said the employee, who had taken his cellphone, proceeded to delete all of the 800-plus photos stored on the phone.

"Memories, family, friends, important milestones over the course of the last year that I had on the phone... all gone," he said.

Merling's attorney Jamie Benizri says the $67,000 in damages will compensate for his client's injuries — but also for the emotional loss of the photos.

"Although there's an irreplaceable sentimental value tied to the photos...there has to be a way to quantify every single one. And this is what we've tried to do,"  Benizre said.

The SAQ says it's taking the situation seriously and says the employee involved is facing disciplinary action. It was unable to confirm whether the employee had been fired.

The lawsuit is expected to go before the courts in the new year.


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