Koskie Minsky LLP And Watkins Law Professional Corporation announce Ontario Child Welfare Class Action

Jan 22, 2014, 13:47 ET from Koskie Minsky LLP

TORONTO, Jan. 22, 2014 /CNW/ - The law firms Koskie Minsky LLP and Watkins Law Professional Corporation have launched a class action claiming that the Ontario government systematically failed to take all necessary steps to protect the legal rights and claims of children in its care.

In Ontario, a child may be removed from the care of his or her parents and put into the care of the Province for reasons that include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or neglect. In Ontario, permanent wards for whom the Province has legal responsibility are called Crown wards.

Crown wards were victims of criminal abuse, neglect and tortious acts as children, and as a result of which, were removed from the care of their families and placed under the care of the Province of Ontario. These children were also victims of abuse, neglect, and tortious acts while they were under the age of 18 and in the care of Ontario.

As a result of the crimes and torts committed against them prior to and during their Crown Wardship, the class members were entitled to apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and to commence proceedings for civil damages.

The suit claims the province failed to take all necessary steps to protect the rights of Crown wards to apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board or to file personal injury claims for children who were abused prior to or while in the care of the Province.

The class action includes all children who were Crown wards at any time from January 1, 1966, the date that the Province of Ontario voluntarily accepted legal responsibility and guardianship of Crown wards.

"Ontario Crown Wards represent an enormously vulnerable group requiring tremendous physical, emotional and legal protection." declared Jonathan Ptak, co-lead counsel in this class action.

Christopher Watkins stated "As a result of the Crown's systemic failure and inaction, Crown Wards in Ontario have seen their ability to seek civil damages and compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board evaporate."

Sandy Zaitzeff, co-lead counsel in this class action, notes that because the Crown failed to act, "limitation periods have expired, evidence has disappeared, and Crown Wards who were victims of criminal and tortious acts have not received compensation that would otherwise have played a vital role in their recovery and development."

Ontario Crown wards and former Ontario Crown wards are encouraged to visit www.watkinslawforthepeople.com, email claybourne@watkinslawforthepeople.com or call 807-345-4455 or visit www.kmlaw.ca/ocwclassaction, email ocwclassaction@kmlaw.ca or call 1 (866) 778-7985 to provide information about their Wardship to support the case and to be in a position to make a claim, if the case is successful.

Jonathan Ptak (of Koskie Minsky LLP) and Sandy Zaitzeff (of Watkins Law Professional Corporation) are lead counsel in this proposed class action. The claim was issued in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Koskie Minsky LLP, based in Toronto, is one of Canada's foremost class action, pension, labour, employment and litigation firms. Its class actions group has been a leader in class actions since 1992 and has prosecuted many of the leading cases in the area.  For example, Koskie Minsky LLP was counsel to the survivors of Huronia Regional Centre, a facility for individuals with developmental disabilities, who recently received court approval of a settlement with the Province of Ontario wherein the Province agreed to pay survivors $35 million and to provide an apology to former residents of Huronia for the harm they sustained while living at this facility. Koskie Minsky LLP was also counsel in Cloud v. Canada, the first Indian residential schools class action certified in Canada which resulted in a $4 billion pan-Canadian settlement. The settlement is proceeding and over 90,000 class members have made claims.

Sandy Zaitzeff and Christopher Watkins, based in Thunder Bay, bring extensive courtroom and trial experience in the areas of personal injury, criminal and class action litigation.  Sandy Zaitzeff is lead counsel in several class actions including against the City of Thunder Bay regarding its alleged failure to properly maintain a water pollution control plant, in national actions involving alleged gender based discrimination in the RCMP and the Alysena Birth Control class action; both cases involve women from across Canada.

SOURCE Koskie Minsky LLP