Six victims of Mississauga restaurant bombing launch $6M lawsuit against owners
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2018 9:01AM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, August 21, 2018 7:31PM EDT
Six victims of a bombing at a popular Indian restaurant in Mississauga have launched a $6 million lawsuit, alleging the owners failed to provide adequate security to protect patrons.
The Bombay Bhel restaurant was bustling with customers and children on the evening of May 24 when an explosion rocked the dining area, sending shrapnel flying at unsuspecting diners.
A total of 15 people, ranging in age from 23 to 69, were wounded. Three victims suffered critical injuries in the blast, though their conditions quickly improved in hospital. Meanwhile, the remaining 12 sustained minor injuries.
According to a statement of claim filed Monday with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, each of the six plaintiffs is seeking $1 million in damages. The six victims are part of two families who were dining together at the restaurant when the blast occurred.
Their lawyers – Sandra Zisckind, Darryl Singer and Jeremy Diamond of Diamond and Diamond Personal Injury Lawyers – spoke on behalf of the victims, some of which sat silently in the room during the Tuesday morning news conference.
They claim the owners of Bombay Bhel should have been more aware of security issues related to the “targeted” attack.
“The result of their inactions is the fact that our clients have been severely injured,” attorney Darryl Singer said. “None of our clients have been back to work. They’ve suffered surgeries, tremendous psychological damages similar to post-traumatic stress, obviously as they were involved in a bombing, and their families as well have been put to the test in terms of having to take care of their now-injured adult siblings and children.”
Singer said his clients “heard things through the community” that suggest the owners may have been aware of a possible threat prior to the bombing but failed to be “proactive.”
He refused to provide details about where that information came from, only attributing it to a number of “sources” he believes to be “credible.”
He later told CP24 that his clients have heard rumours within their community about the restaurant getting caught up in sort of “organized crime turf war.”
“We’re not suggesting every restaurant in Toronto should get metal detectors,” Zisckind added. “But if they knew there was a threat, if they knew there was a problem or there was some sort of threat in the community, then they needed to either shut down or do some sort of extra proactive steps. That’s what we need to find out and that’s what this lawsuit will do.”
Peel Regional Police responded to the assertion, saying the force conducted extensive interviews with everyone involved, and never received reports of any threats toward the restaurant, owners, staff or otherwise.
“We have no information to suggest this is a turf war,” Sgt. Matt Bertram told CP24 via email. “Our team of investigators are dedicated to this investigation and are still working hard to solve this crime. This is a very sensitive investigation, in order to protect the integrity of it, we cannot share detailed information on our progress.”
Within hours of the explosion, police investigators had released a surveillance photo of two suspects clad in dark hoodies pulled tightly over their faces.
The pair, believed to be a male and female, walked into the restaurant where, police alleged, they planted a “homemade” improvised explosive device before escaping the area on foot and later by vehicle.
According to the statement of claim, the victims believe that the bombing, which occurred around 10:32 p.m., would not have happened inside the establishment if the doors of the restaurant closed on time, at 10:30 p.m.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that the restaurant was left in a “dangerous manner” as it did not have a sufficient number of security cameras or security guards, or properly employ and train staff to supervise the establishment.
Though a motive has not been identified, investigators have been firm that there was “absolutely nothing” about the case that indicates the bombing was an act of terror.
To date, no arrests have been made.
Victims ‘frustrated’ with police, lawyers say
While the legal team commended police on their job so far, they said their clients approached their firm because they had grown “frustrated” and weren’t “getting any answers from police.”
Zisckind said the purpose of the lawsuit is to try and move the case forward faster than police can.
“The police are there to find the criminals responsible for this case. What we’re trying to figure out is if the restaurant knew or ought to have known there was a real threat to the patrons,” Zisckind said. “It’s two separate but parallel things.”
One of the victims, Sonia Sheth, who is named in the statement of claim, now requires constant assistance from her husband for day-to-day activities, Singer said.
The impact of the incident has left Sheth with nightmares and flashbacks, and caused her to be fearful of public places and other restaurants. According to the statement of claim, Sheth suffered injuries to her legs and arms, causing her chronic pain and mobility issues.
All of the victims named in the lawsuit claim they now require extensive therapy, rehabilitation and medical treatment as part of their recovery. Some may even be forced to retire early, the claim indicates.
In a statement read by attorney Jeremey Diamond, the victims touched on the suffering they’ve endured since the blast. They also urged more witnesses to come forward and speak with police so the two suspects are identified and caught.
“We are victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the statement reads. “We believe we were carnage in a turf war between individuals we did not even know. We commenced this lawsuit in an effort to demand more answers about what happened on that day.”
Read the full statement of claim below: