and, it continues.
Judge weighs certifying WRM class-action suit
article text is below.
see my comments after the article.
Judge weighs certifying WRM class-action suit
By Vincent Ball, Brantford Expositor
A Superior Court Judge has been asked to decide whether allegations of abuse at W. Ross Macdonald should be allowed to proceed as a class action lawsuit.
Justice Carolyn Horkins heard from lawyers representing the provincial government, as well as those representing Robert Seed, a Thunder Bay man who attended the provincially run school for the blind and visually impaired in the 1950s and 1960s.
At issue is whether Seed’s allegations should be certified as a class-action proceeding to cover other W. Ross Macdonald students.
The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in February 2011. In his statement of claim, Seed alleged the government knew or ought to have known of physical, emotional and sexual abuse being perpetrated on students at W. Ross Macdonald School but didn’t take any steps to prevent or halt the abuses.
He further alleges, in his statement of claim, that the government acted negligently and in breach of its fiduciary duties in its operation and management of the school.
Seed attended the St. Paul Avenue school from 1954 to 1965. He was seven when he started at the school and lived in residence.
Specifically, Seed has alleged that “students were frequently punished for minor or innocuous matters such as being homesick, wetting the bed, throwing up, having trouble reading or using too much toilet paper.”
He has further alleged that teachers and residence counsellors used physical violence as a means of discipline, including beating, shoving students, throwing books and other equipment at students during classes, making students drink from urinals and slapping students.
His claims have not been proven in court.
He is seeking $200 million in damages for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty and $25 million in punitive damages.
In court last week, lawyers for the provincial government argued that the requirements for the proposed class action have not been met.
They said any claims prior to 1963 are ineligible to be included in a class-action lawsuit because there were no provisions for such legal action before that year. Prior to that date, the Crown was immune from claims for damages, they argued.
Lawyers representing the government also said, in their statement of defence, that Seed is seeking to certify a student class for a period that covers a time beginning Jan. 1, 1951, to the present day. However, the evidence that was been presented to the court is much more limited. The only evidence presented to the court so far covers a period from 1951 to 1985, they argued.
In addition, lawyers for the government argued that to make an assessment of damages, it would be necessary to establish the harm and quantification of damages for each student. The claims could not “reasonably be determined without proof by individual class members and cannot be assessed on an aggregate basis,” they said.
However, lawyers for Seed dismissed the arguments put forth on behalf of the government saying the defence is almost identical to that used against a similar class action lawsuit filed on behalf of past residents of the Huronia, Southwestern and Rideau regional centres, which were approved for certification last year.
Former residents of those centres for developmentally disabled people are also alleging abuse similar to that alleged by Seed. The former centres were operated by the provincial government.
“By using the same unsuccessful arguments for W. Ross Macdonald as it did for the regional centre class actions, the Crown (province) is blatantly showing that it has no regard for the court’s time and taxpayers who are footing the bill for these expensive proceedings,” Kirk Baert, of Koskie Minksy LLP, who represents plaintiffs for both legal actions, said in a statement released Friday.
Arguments put forth by the provincial government in the W. Ross Macdonald case were unsuccessful during the class action certifications for the Huronia, Southwestern and Rideau Regional centres, he said.
“I don’t understand how the Crown (province) can see fit to continue to defend itself using the same litany of arguments for people who were abused in Ontario-run institutions and actually believe there will be a different outcome,” Baert said.
“The Crown needs to do the right thing and let us proceed with the W. Ross Macdonald class action without further delay, so these people can see justice in their lifetime.”
There are comments on this article, and frankly, as I wasn’t apart of this issue, I don’t know what to think.