Skip to content

Judge tosses West Van cheese thief’s excessive force lawsuit

Plaintiff claimed cheese was planted on him by security
Wine and cheese web
A theft of cheese from a West Vancouver grocery store has ended with an excessive force lawsuit being tossed out.

A cheese thief who was arrested by a Park Royal Extra Foods security guard has lost his excessive force civil suit in B.C. Supreme Court.

According to a ruling released by the B.C. Supreme Court last week, Hamid Moinzadeh was arrested outside Extra Foods in October 2013 after loss prevention officer Arnold Bogdan spotted him stuffing a block of cheese into his coat pocket.

Bogdan hailed Moinzadeh outside, identified himself as store security and told Moinzadeh he was under arrest for theft, the written ruling states. Moinzadeh became verbally belligerent, uttered profanities and attempted to pull away so Bogdan maintained his grip on Moinzadeh’s arm and escorted him into the store’s rear office.

While being arrested, Moinzadeh called 911 and West Vancouver police arrived a few minutes later. Moinzadeh complained that he was wrongfully arrested by Bogdan, that the cheese had been planted on him and that his arm had been injured in the arrest.

A few weeks later, Moinzadeh went to the West Vancouver Police Department to formally file an assault complaint against Bogdan, court documents show.

Moinzadeh was later charged with theft under $5,000, however a judge diverted his case from the court system subject to Moinzadeh doing 10 hours of community service, the ruling noted.

Right off the bat, Justice Nigel Kent affirmed that citizen's arrests are legal.

“Anyone who sees another person committing an indictable offence is permitted to make what is colloquially called a ‘citizen's arrest’ of that person and is authorized to use as much force as is necessary for that purpose. This is an ancient right, indeed obligation, at common law but one which is also codified in … the Criminal Code,” he wrote.

Since he began his career in 1998, Bogdan has made roughly 1,000 arrests, Kent noted, none of which resulted in complaints about excessive force.

At the start of the trial, Moinzadeh conceded he did in fact steal the cheese and that Bogdan was within his rights to make a citizen's arrest – but he said grabbing and twisting his arm was “grossly excessive and should result in liability notwithstanding the theft.”

Bogdan did not dispute that he grabbed Moinzadeh’s arm but denied twisting it.

Suing private security officers for excessive force is not without successful precedent in Canada. In 1999, a judge awarded a man $38,000 in compensation for physical injury and humiliation after a department store security guard left him in handcuffs for approximately four hours.

But Kent rejected Moinzadeh’s version of events, largely because of his history of lies in the case – telling police twice he was wrongly accused and that the evidence was planted, repeating the same lie in court documents and lying under oath during a pre-trial examination.

“In this particular case, Mr. Moinzadeh has lied repeatedly and has displayed persistent dishonesty,” Kent wrote. “In such circumstances, absent reliable corroboration, there is little reason for the court to believe Mr. Moinzadeh is now telling the truth about the degree of force employed during his arrest.”

Bogdan was justified in arresting Moinzadeh for theft and he did not use excessive force in making the arrest, Kent concluded.

Moinzadeh represented himself at trial. Along with throwing out his lawsuit, Kent ordered him to pay the defendants’ legal bills.