The Broadening Applicability of Issue Estoppel

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The Court of Appeal’s decision in Penner v. Regional Municipality of Niagara Regional Police Services Board et al. (reserved at the Supreme Court, January 11, 2012) gives support for a broader application of issue estoppel. In this case, the Court of Appeal held that findings made in a police Disciplinary Hearing precluded re-litigating those same issues in a civil action.

The appellant (Mr. Penner) was arrested during a courtroom disturbance in the Ontario Court of Justice. He alleged misconduct by the police officers who arrested him, claiming the arrest was unlawful and that the officers used unnecessary force. After proceedings at the Police Disciplinary Hearing and the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services, the Divisional Court upheld the original Hearing Officer’s decision dismissing Mr. Penner’s complaints.

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