VANCOUVER – A coffee chain that saw three of its stores vandalized during the Stanley Cup riot has filed a lawsuit against the rioters, urging anyone who participated to come forward and negotiate a settlement.
Blenz Coffee’s statement of claim, filed this week in B.C. Supreme Court, targets 150 people identified only as John or Jane Doe. The company said it will use photo and video evidence to replace those with real names.
George Moen, president of the Vancouver-based company, said three Blenz stores owned and operated by franchisees were damaged in the three-hour riot that saw windows smashed, stores looted and cars burned over several blocks in the city’s downtown after the Canucks’ Game 7 loss. Blenz is still assessing the damage, but Moen estimated it was “in the low six figures.”
Moen said he’s confident the company will identify some of the rioters, and he suggested they come forward on their own.
“We want to make sure people know they’re accountable, that’s really what’s been driving and motivating us over the past few days,” Moen said in an interview.
“One of the reasons we’re delaying naming some of them is that we want them to come forward and apologize—people who come forward and apologize are going to be treated a heck of a lot more lenient than people who don’t.”
Moen said if rioters come forward, the company’s lawyers will consider settlements on a case-by-case basis. That could include apologies and returning Blenz property that was stolen.
Some rioters, particularly young people who have been named and shamed on the Internet, have already turned themselves into police, though Moen said no one has contacted Blenz.
At one store, Moen said there were staff members still inside when rioters stormed in.
“She (the franchise owner) was trapped inside the store along with two employees and a customer,” he said.
The damage at that location was so extensive that it’s expected to remain closed for several weeks, said Moen.
The Downtown Business Improvement Association has estimated the riot caused $4 million to $5 million in damage and looting.
The riot began as 150,000 clogged the city’s downtown for the final game of the Canucks series with the Boston Bruins. A car was set on fire inside a massive outdoor viewing site, and the violence spread during the next several hours.
Almost 150 people were injured and police have so far announced more than 100 arrests.
Vancouver’s police force and its municipal government have faced questions about how prepared they were for a possible riot and whether it was wise to organize large viewing that would concentrate tens of thousands of hockey fans in one spot.
Those questions also focus on whether lessons from a similar riot in 1994, the last time the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup final, were put into practise ahead of this year’s playoff run.