Man can press part of suit against cop he says framed him, Appeal Court says

TORONTO — A man who claims Toronto police officers framed him over a car crash can pursue some of his civil lawsuit against a constable and others involved in the alleged conspiracy, Ontario's top court ruled on Tuesday.

In its ruling, the court set aside a lower court decision that dismissed the suit by Sajjad Asghar without any hearing on its merits.

``Motion judges are sometimes faced with claims that seem incredible and highly implausible, which are asserted by self-represented individuals who are often insulting in their manner of presentation and in the material they file,'' the Appeal Court said.

``Nonetheless, these individuals are entitled to have their pleadings assessed on an objective basis, read generously.''

The case arose in May 2014 when Asghar was involved in a crash with an SUV in the city's east end. Const. Brad Verspeeten charged Asghar with careless driving — a charge that was withdrawn two years later.

Convinced he had been wrongfully charged, Asghar sued the officer and a witness, a city bus driver. He based his claim on the fact that dash-cam footage from Verspeeten's cruiser contradicted the officer's sketch of the crash scene and witness statements.

``It is not surprising that the charge of careless driving was withdrawn,'' the Court of Appeal said. ``The appellant was outraged by this situation.''

In his unproven statement of claim, Asghar alleged negligent investigation, malicious prosecution and conspiracy. He also alleged an international criminal conspiracy involving Canadian and American police forces and organized crime.

``This is high time for the Canadian court system and the Parliament to promulgate law that addresses organized crime since Canada runs rife with organized crime and the Crown in right of Canada facilitates organized crime on law abiding citizens,'' his claim asserted.

Police sought to have the claim struck out as frivolous and vexatious.

In her decision, Superior Court Justice Andra Pollak found much of claim to be ``scandalous'' and struck it down in its entirety without any opportunity to fix the problems.

``If the claim is not struck out, the result will be unfocused discoveries and a lengthy, complex trial,'' Pollak found.

Asghar appealed. He argued Verspeeten never bothered to interview him about the crash. He alleged officers and witnesses changed their evidence to justify the charges.

``Defendant and fellow police officers changed the final location of both vehicles inside the file which was contrary to the material facts, circumstantial and video evidence, but fit well with the maliciously falsified statements of the witnesses,'' he said in his claim.

In its analysis, the higher court called his allegations of negligent investigation and malicious prosecution plausible. Implausible, the court said, were his broader conspiracy claims.

``The appellant's factum and his oral submissions bubble with outrage about the bum's rush he thinks he got from (the judge),'' the Appeal Court said.

Ultimately, the Appeal Court ruled Asghar could pursue parts of his claim if they were changed in accordance with proper legal principles.

``Much of the pleading is scandalous in the technical legal sense of being irrelevant to the determination of the causes of action on the merits,'' the appellate court said. ``These are struck without leave to amend. The balance of the pleading is struck with leave to amend.''

© 2019 The Canadian Press