⚖️ Youthful exuberance

To: Hearsay Readers

If you’re refusing to watch the new reality series based on Squid Game because the stakes aren’t high enough, don’t be so quick to judge. Sure, the contestants on “Squid Game: The Challenge” aren’t facing the threat of death like the characters in the original series — but they are saying they risked their health to compete. Some of the contestants are considering a lawsuit against Netflix, alleging they suffered hypothermia and nerve damage while hiding in the cold from the show’s giant robotic doll.

I’m looking forward to sending out some Hearsay stickers this weekend — it’s great to see so many of you making use of the referral program. If you haven’t shared Hearsay yet, what are you waiting for? (seriously, send me an email, I’d love to know).

— Dylan Gibbs

TODAY’S DOCKET

  • SCC: When can young offenders be sentenced as adults?

  • Insurance: ONCA sides with insurer over COVID-19 business losses

  • Round up: Lexpert rising stars, BC homeless encampment legislation, celebrity sex assault lawsuits

SCC

Test to sentence youths as adults up for debate

Teenage boy sitting in jail cell

Two young men have another shot at freedom. Yesterday, the SCC granted leave to appeal in two cases involving young offenders sentenced as adults for first-degree murder.

  • I.M. was 17 years and five months old when he participated in the fatal stabbing of another 17-year-old.

  • S.B. was only 16 when he shot and killed another 16-year-old at close range.

The Ontario Court of Appeal sided with the Crown in both cases and sentenced the young men as adults. That’s a major consequence — the maximum youth sentence for first degree is 10 years, but adults automatically get life.

On appeal: Youths can be sentenced as adults only if (i) they lack the diminished culpability we generally associate with young people; and (ii) a youth sentence would be insufficient. The appellants want the Court to answer some more specific questions about those requirements, like:

  • Does the Crown need to prove the offender lacks diminished culpability beyond a reasonable doubt?

  • How much weight do we place on the seriousness of the offence?

  • How do we deal with societal factors like systemic anti-Black racism?

INSURANCE

Business not covered for COVID-19 losses

Restaurant with empty parking lot and closed sign out front

The Ontario Court of Appeal held that a restaurant forced to suspend in-person dining during the pandemic can’t claim its losses through insurance. The restaurant’s property insurance covered losses caused by some types of government orders, but those coverages didn’t apply.

  • The restaurant was covered if government orders blocked access to the restaurant — but only if the government was acting to stop the same type of risk covered by the insurance policy. The restaurant’s policy was meant to cover the risk of physical property damage, not infectious diseases, so the COVID-19 orders didn’t fit the bill.

  • The restaurant was also covered if government orders shut down the business to “retard or prevent a conflagration or other catastrophe”. But the Court said COVID-19 was not a conflagration or other catastrophe.

Photo of makeshift dining structure on sidewalk with caption: "Can someone please explain to me how building a house on a sidewalk is outdoor dining?"

HEARSAY ROUNDUP

Canadiana

🏆 Lexpert released its annual list of rising stars.

⛺️ BC will delay the implementation of its controversial homeless encampment legislation. The proposed new law says municipalities need to ensure there are “reasonably available” shelter options available before tearing down an encampment. People on both sides of the issue are upset by the law — housing advocates say it’s too permissive in authorizing evictions, and municipalities say it’s too restrictive. The government still plans to move forward but is taking additional time to consult with municipalities.

Beyond the border

⌛️ Yesterday was the deadline to sue under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which led to a rush of sexual assault lawsuits. The statute temporarily lifted the limitation period, letting sexual abuse victims sue for dated claims. The past week saw lawsuits against several noteworthy people, including Jamie Foxx, Axl Rose, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sean “Diddy” Combs, Bill Cosby, and New York’s Mayor Eric Adams. Celebrity suits aside, the Associated Press reported that most of the more than 2,500 lawsuits filed under the Act relate to sexual abuse in prisons and jails.

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