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Unlawful Arrest over $0.65 Newspaper > Woman Awarded $4,500 plus Costs

An interesting case reviewing the balance between a retail store trying to prevent theft and the rights of a customer suspected of theft – Twan v. Hudson’s Bay Company (2008) 93 O.R. (3d) 582 (Div. Ct.)

In short, Ms Twan was in an Ottawa “The Bay” store and after paying something towards her “The Bay” store credit card (for which she had a $1,500 credit limit), she left the store and did not pay for a $0.65 newspaper.

She was asked to return into the store by an undercover security guard.  Ms Twan provided her particulars (address, etc) and was asked to sign a ‘trespass’ notice created by and filled in by The Bay.  Ms Twan refused, asking for time to consider this and to speak to her boyfriend.

During this process, Ms Twan asked to leave the store temporarily to pick up some fast food she had purchased already but had not yet picked up.  The store’s security guard agreed and followed her out the store, to the fast food place and then both of them returned back to The Bay store.

Ms Twan was given a choice – sign the trespass notice or wait for the police to arrive.  She refused to sign and then was told that the police might come in 10 minutes or as long as 5 hours.

Ms Twan tried to then leave, a scuffle occurred and she was detained until the police arrived.  The police did not charge her criminally but gave her a ticket instead.

At Small Claims Court, Ms Twan won $4,500 in damages, plus $1,500 in prejudgment interest and costs.  The basis of the award was unlawful arrest/confinement.

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