TORONTO, Dec. 23, 2013 /CNW/ - Proposed Settlements have been reached in two class action lawsuits involving the Rideau Regional Centre ("Rideau") and the Southwestern Regional Centre ("Southwestern"), which were residential facilities operated by the Province of Ontario (the "Province") that provided care and treatment to persons labelled with developmental disabilities.
Rideau was located in Smith Falls, Ontario, and was open from 1951 to 2009. Southwestern was located in Blenheim, Ontario and was open from 1961 to 2008.
The lawsuits against each facility say the Province failed to properly care for and protect the residents of Rideau and Southwestern from physical and mental harm. The Province denies these claims and the Court has not decided whether the Class or the Province is right. Instead, both sides have agreed to a settlement of each class action. The proposed Settlements do not mean that any law was broken or that the Province did anything wrong.
These settlements come on the heels of a recent settlement between the Province and residents of the Huronia Regional Centre, a similar facility to Rideau and Southwestern that provided care and treatment to persons with developmental disabilities.
The Court appointed the law firm of Koskie Minsky LLP from Toronto, Ontario to represent the Classes as "Class Counsel". In a statement Class Counsel, Kirk Baert said, "This proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable and in the best interests of all class members. After years of litigation, this Settlement finally provides those members of the class who suffered harm while living at the Rideau Regional and Southwestern Regional Centres with a measure of vindication." These two lawsuits were scheduled to go to trial in March, 2015.
The Rideau Settlement is for $20,619,000. The Southwestern Settlement is for $12,081,000. The different settlement amounts as between Rideau and Southwestern reflects a difference in population between the two facilities. Both Settlements include a written apology from the Premier to any former residents who suffered harm while residents of Rideau or Southwestern.
The Rideau lawsuit affects people who were residents of Rideau any time between 1963 and 2009 who were alive as of September 24, 2008. The Southwestern lawsuit affects people who were residents of Southwestern any time between 1963 and 2008 who were alive as of December 29, 2008.
If the proposed Settlements are approved and become final, they will provide benefits to eligible Class Members from two Settlement Funds which are being paid for by the Province. The amount of benefits that Class Members can receive will depend on the level of harm suffered. If the Court approves the proposed Settlements, Class Members will have to submit a Claim Form to receive benefits.
Class Members who did not previously remove themselves from the Classes will be legally bound by all orders and judgments of the Court, and cannot sue the Province about the legal claims in these cases.
The Settlement Funds received by individual Class Members will not affect eligibility for, the amount, nature and/or duration of social assistance programs administered by or on behalf of the Province, including, but not limited to, the Ontario Disability Support Program. The Province will also send a letter to the Federal Government and any other applicable provincial government to request their agreement that any social assistance benefits available to Class Members from those other governments will not be affected by any settlement funds received by individual Class Members.
The settlement is not effective until the court reviews it and determines that it is fair, reasonable and in the best interest of class members. The parties will be seeking court approval in the coming months. Class members will be provided with advanced notice of that settlement approval hearing.
Some Class Members may have difficulty reading, so we are asking for the help from family members, caregivers and friends of former residents in getting information to them. Please show this notice to people who are impacted by this lawsuit or to their caregivers.
Class Members who are having a difficult time dealing with the issues in this lawsuit can call 1-866-879-4915 (TTY: 1-877-627-7027) for assistance.
SOURCE: Koskie Minsky LLP
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