Class action lawsuit against Peter Nygard suspended after US government requests stay of proceedings

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A class action lawsuit against Peter Nygard involving 57 women who allege the former fashion executive sexually assaulted them has been suspended.The judge who presided over the case in the Southern District of New York decided to stay the proceedings on Friday, court records show.

The judge’s order is sealed, but a screenshot of the court record posted to Twitter by InnerCity Press shows the US government has been allowed to intervene.

A stay of proceedings means the case has been stayed, but that doesn’t mean it has been dropped. The court may subsequently lift the suspension and continue the proceedings.

In February, the FBI raided Nygard’s New York City offices as part of a criminal investigation into sex trafficking shortly after the class action lawsuit was filed. No charges were laid.

Police in Canada and the Bahamas are also investigating Nygard.

InnerCity Press posted a screenshot of the court file on Twitter on Friday, showing the reasons the class action was suspended. (Pete Brush / Twitter)

“I’m not surprised by this,” said Winnipeg lawyer Robert Tapper, who is not involved in the case. Generally speaking, he said, the police don’t want a civil trial to interfere with an active criminal investigation.

“If you are the police and the lawyers representing the police investigators, you don’t want the civil trial lawyer to organize an examination for discovery or a witness testimony,” Tapper said. “You want to do your own investigation. ”

In Canada and the United States, lawyers can call witnesses to testify in a civil trial, he said, but unlike Canada, Americans can testify witnesses before a trial, independent of a police investigation.

“You don’t have to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt in a civil case,” but in a criminal trial, “the state doesn’t have that luxury,” Tapper said.

“So they don’t want anyone to stall their investigation. ”

Nygard denies the allegations of sexual assault, and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

In February, 10 women filed a class action lawsuit against Nygard and his companies, alleging he raped and sexually assaulted the plaintiffs. Other women have since signed the lawsuit from the United States, Canada and the Bahamas, bringing the total number involved in the lawsuit to 57.

Their allegations date back to 1977 and some women claim to have been assaulted when they were only 14 or 15 years old.

In July, Nygard filed a motion to dismiss the claims of most of the 57 plaintiffs in the case, arguing that 50 of the women have no connection to New York and that the US court has no jurisdiction over him or his companies named in the civil lawsuit.

Calls to Nygard spokespersons were not immediately returned.

Nygard companies in receivership

Nygard has been involved in a series of legal proceedings in recent months.

Last week, two of his sons filed a separate lawsuit alleging that Nygard prepared them to be raped by his girlfriend – described as a “known sex worker” – when they were teenagers.

On the corporate side, nine Nygard companies – which have offices in Winnipeg, New York and Toronto – have been in receivership since March 18, to repay more than US $ 25 million to secured lenders.

The Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench has since approved the sale of two Nygard properties, including the company’s head office in Toronto and the property on Notre Dame Avenue in Winnipeg. Nygard’s outlets in the United States and Canada are currently being liquidated.

In an April report to the court, the receiver said he discovered thousands of documents and data was deleted after Nygard Inc. received a grand jury summons from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on February 25.

Richter Advisory Group said its review of Nygard companies found that 10,488 files had been deleted by three users; two of them were supposed to be IT staff performing maintenance activities, but the third user was identified as a former manager of Nygard.

Richter said he was investigating. No further update was provided on the issue.

A copy of the summons attached to the receiver’s report indicates that Nygard Inc. has been ordered to produce documents dated January 1, 2008 for a criminal investigation.

Among other things, the court ordered the company to turn over “all documents, records and communications relating to or reflecting allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment or assault on the part of Peter Nygard” and “each date on the over the past five years in which the company has purged data. “

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