London Drugs has filed the first civil law suits against 14 Stanley Cup rioters who trashed the firm’s downtown Vancouver store two years ago.
Some are still before the courts on criminal charges but others – like 22-year-old Surrey looter Victor Varela – have been convicted.
Varela admitted stealing two laptop computers, binoculars and a camera before being sentenced to 30 days in jail for participating in a riot.
London Drugs is seeking a combined total of $50,000 in damages from the initial four small claims lawsuits it has filed.
But CEO Wynne Powell said money recovered through the courts must be repaid to insurance companies.
“We’re not doing this for the money,” Powell said. “We’re doing this on behalf of the staff who felt they were going to lose their lives on that night and felt terrorized by these people.”
More 340 looters poured into the store on the night of the riot, after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins, and more than $450,000 in merchandise was taken.
Store staff hid in a secure steel room but Powell said they didn’t feel safe.
“The store was destroyed around them,” he said, adding the rioters left “absolute chaos” behind them.
Powell noted Varela later bragged about selling what he took for cash and although he apologized in court he did not return the money.
Six of the rioters targeted in the law suits aren’t yet identified but the remaining eight have been charged and all but one have pleaded guilty.
The maximum payout from any individual small claims case is $25,000.
Powell said London Drugs intends to file more small claims suits against between eight and 21 more rioters before June 15, when a two-year deadline to file runs out.