Gymnastics Canada and Provincial Gymnastics Associations | Physical, Sexual and Psychological Abuse Lawsuit

Class Action Update – August 10, 2023

Globally, the sport of gymnastics has come under scrutiny for its “culture of cruelty”. Factors such as a  ‘win-at-all-costs’ approach, a population of young and mostly female gymnasts, and inherent power imbalances, along with a culture of control and an overarching tolerance of abusive behaviour have all led to the creation of an environment where abuse, including sexual, physical and psychological abuse and mistreatment, are commonplace.

Class Action Filed

A proposed class action lawsuit against Gymnastics Canada and some Provincial Member Organizations has been filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. See the Notice of Civil Claim here.

What is the Claim About?

This action arises from the physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of gymnasts in Canada. The defendants are the major governing bodies of gymnastics in Canada.

The proposed class action is filed on behalf of all gymnasts resident in Canada who claim that they were abused while participating in Gymnastics Canada, Provincial Member Organization (for example, Gymnastics BC and Gymnastics Ontario) or Member Club programs, activities, or events, between 1978 and the present day (the “Class Period”).

The claim alleges that the defendants caused or contributed to the abuse by creating a culture and an environment where the abuse could occur, and by failing to take appropriate steps to protect the athletes in their care, many of whom were children when the abuse took place.

We Want to Help – Get in Touch to Learn More

Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP (HSH) and Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman (CFM), and Branch McMaster (BM) are working together to represent gymnasts in the proposed Class Action. If you believe that you or a loved one were abused while training or competing in organized gymnastics anywhere in Canada, we are ready to hear from you. We encourage you to reach out, even if you are unsure whether your experience would be considered abuse and regardless of your gender or age, whether the abuse happened recently or in your earlier childhood.

Members of the legal team at HSH, CFM and BM are available to speak to potential class members from all provinces and territories in a free, no-obligation virtual meeting or call, where you can learn about your legal options.

Call us today at 1-877-771-7006 or email gymcanclassaction@hshlawyers.com. You can also email or call any of the lawyers listed below directly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a class action?

  • A class action is a type of lawsuit where a group of people with the same or similar injuries sue the defendant(s) as a group. We call this group of people “the Class” or the “Class Members”.
  • The claim is commenced by a Representative Plaintiff who has filed the lawsuit on behalf of the proposed Class, and will be asking the Court to allow them to proceed with the case as a class action. The Representative Plaintiff has an obligation to represent the best interests of the Class.

What happens next?

  • The first step in a proposed class action is an application brought by the Representative Plaintiff, asking the Court to allow the case to proceed as a class action. This is called the “certification” hearing. At the certification hearing, the Court does not typically decide the merits of a case; it only decides whether the case can proceed as a class action.
  • If the Court certifies the class action, a Court-approved notice is provided to potential members of the class to ensure everyone is aware of the lawsuit and can decide whether or not they want to participate. If you want to ensure that you receive this notice, please contact the lawyers and provide us with your contact information.
  • Any Class Member who does not want to participate will be given the opportunity to “opt-out”.
  • When the action is resolved – whether by settlement or trial – everyone in the Class is bound by that resolution.
  • If the class action is resolved by way of settlement, the funds from the settlement are then distributed to the class according to a plan of distribution that must be approved by the Court.
  • If the claim goes to a trial, it can sometimes include a process where individual damages are assessed. Class Members may be required to provide evidence as part of this process.

How long will it take?

  • Cases of this complexity and size take many years to resolve, and there are many factors that will impact the timing of each stage of the litigation. Class counsel will keep their websites updated with key dates throughout the litigation, and we welcome you to contact us if you have questions about what is happening in the litigation.

How do I know if I am a potential Class Member?

  • We encourage anyone who participated in gymnastics in Canada between 1978 and the present to reach out, even if they are unsure whether their experience would be considered abuse and regardless of gender or age or when the abuse happened.

What do I need to do?

  • If you wish to be a Class Member, there is nothing further that you need to do. If you meet the class definition, you will automatically be a Class Member if the case is certified.
  • If you think you may be a Class Member, we encourage you to contact the lawyers to provide your contact information so that you are kept informed about the litigation.
  • You will receive periodic updates from class counsel and formal correspondence approved by the Court if the action is certified. Otherwise, you can refer back to our website for additional information.

How much compensation will I get?

  • We are not able to provide an estimate of compensation for individual Class Members at this time.
  • The Court will ultimately review and approve any compensation to the Class to make sure it is reasonable. Class Members will also be given the opportunity to object if a settlement is reached with the defendants and the Class Member does not agree that the amount of the settlement is reasonable.

How do you get paid?

  • We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only get paid if a settlement agreement is reached or we are successful at trial.
  • We get paid a percentage of the overall settlement or award at trial.
  • In a class action the legal fee has to be approved by the Court as being fair and reasonable.

Will my name stay confidential?

  • At this stage yes, your name will remain confidential and will not be disclosed in public Court filings.
  • It is possible that we will ask some Class Members to provide evidence in support of certification.
  • If you are willing to give evidence at the certification hearing about your experience please let us know. If we decide your evidence could be helpful to the case, we may ask you to assist.
  • Depending on your individual circumstances, we may be able to ask the Court for an order protecting your identity from being made public.
  • If the case is certified, it is possible that you will be asked or required to provide evidence at trial. If you do not want your name disclosed at that time, there are steps that we can take to try to protect your identity, but it would be up to the Court to make the decision on whether we are able to take those steps.
  • If this is a significant concern for you, we encourage you to reach out to discuss this with us further.

What if I attended gymnastics in a province not listed on the claim?

  • We still want to hear from you. You may still be a Class Member. Further, our investigation is ongoing and the class definition may be modified and/or additional defendants may be added as the case proceeds.

News Coverage

Gymnastics group calls for national judicial inquiry into sexual and physical abuse in the sport – CBC News (November 21, 2022)

Broken: Inside The Toxic Culture of Canadian Gymnastics

Gymnastics Canada says abuse allegations described in class-action lawsuit ‘unacceptable’

Proposed class-action lawsuit filed against Gymnastics Canada, provincial federations

‘My self-confidence is almost non-existent’: Canadian gymnasts’ letter on abuse spurs roundtable

U.S. Judge Aquilina urges Sport Canada to heed gymnasts’ call for investigation into abuse, toxic culture

Sport minister: Mechanism for reporting harassment, abuse in place by late spring

Coaching couple, banned by Gymnastics Canada, cancel appeals

Canadian gymnastics coach suspended after abuse allegations

Gymnastics Canada suspends coach Dave Brubaker for life following internal investigation

‘I am guilty of crossing the line,’ ex-gymnastics coach writes in letter

Gymnastics Canada launches probe after former coach acquitted in sex assault trial

Coach’s sex-assault trial shows Canadian gymnastics culture needs to change, says Kyle Shewfelt

Toronto experts call for independent body to tackle abuse in sport

Athlete A – A Netflix Original Documentary

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