TORONTO, Aug. 10, 2012 /CNW/ - By refusing to deliver its position on a class action for former students of a Brantford-area school, the Crown turned what should have been a one-day motion, into a five-month ordeal costing taxpayers more than $125,000.
"This is a gross waste of taxpayer's money," said Kirk Baert of Koskie Minsky LLP, who represents the plaintiffs. "What could have been a one-day motion for certification, based on three similar class actions, turned into an expensive legal mess. The Crown has decided to delay for almost five months with the taxpayer paying the bill. That is totally unacceptable."
The case involves allegations that the Ontario government failed to operate or supervise the W. Ross Macdonald school in a way that ensured the safety and well-being of its students. It is alleged that those caring for the students at W. Ross Macdonald were abusive and took advantage of the students' visual disabilities and that they endured physical, sexual and mental abuse. The action was commenced by Robert Seed, a former student who attended the school from 1954 to 1965 as a young boy.
On November 8, 2011, the plaintiffs asked the Crown to consent to W. Ross Macdonald class action certification within four days. Instead, the Crown's reckless response was to stall the motion until March 19, 2012, before setting out its position on the class action in its legal filings.
The Crown's delays included missed deadlines, missing material and ignoring critical plaintiff requests. Most appalling was the fact that the Crown stated that it did not have "instructions" to make a decision, even after previously promising to do so. Further, the Crown refused to accept a settlement offer that would save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
"I am frankly disgusted that the Crown resorted to such stall tactics with total disregard for the Ontario taxpayer," said Baert. "This could have been dealt with in one day, at minimal cost. Instead, they decided to rag the puck and waste money, as if they don't care who pays the bills."
The W. Ross Macdonald School opened in 1872 as the Ontario Institution for the Education of the Blind. It is one of two Ontario-run residential schools in Ontario for blind, deafblind and visually impaired students.
SOURCE: Koskie Minsky LLP
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