Aug 6, 2020

Loretta P. Merritt interviewed about new rules for institutional abuse cases

Loretta P. Merritt was interviewed by Orillia Matters regarding Attorney General Doug Downey’s new omnibus bill which introduces more stringent rules, making it difficult to sue institutions through class-actions.

If the class-actions against local institutions such as the Huronia Regional Centre, the Edgar Adult Occupational Centre and the Sheila Morrison School were proposed today, they might not make it through the classification process.

Attorney General Doug Downey’s new omnibus bill, passed in July, introduces more stringent tests which lawyers say will make it difficult to sue institutions through class-actions.

From Loretta Merritt’s perspective, that’s not a bad thing.

“Most of the historical abuse cases certified to date involve abuse in residential institutions. Where the common issue is vicarious liability it may not predominate over individual issues,” said Merritt, who believes that victims of institutional abuse are better off going it alone through individual lawsuits.

In addition to a more stringent test, the amendments require the administrator distributing settlement funds to file a report with the court no more than 60 days after the money is fully distributed, setting out the particulars of the distribution. 

She hopes that additional aspect of public accountability for the payments to survivors may cause courts to think twice before certifying cases involving abuse.

“When the amendments to the CPA (Class Proceedings Act) contained in Bill 161 come into force and effect, courts may have increased power to address these problems,” she said. “The provisions relating to the certification test and requiring a report after distribution of settlement funds may help.”

To read the full article, please visit Orillia Matters.

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Loretta P. Merritt