Ontario civil | CLASS ACTIONS
Dismissal of motion suspended for six months to allow preparation of new litigation plan
Plaintiffs were students at school. Plaintiffs claimed residential students at school were physically and psychologically abused. Plaintiff claimed abuse was systemic negligence and systemic breach of fiduciary duty. Plaintiffs claimed damages of $200 million. Plaintiffs brought motion for certification of action as class proceeding. School was founded independently of Diocese. Motion was dismissed. Class proceeding was not preferable procedure. Expediency of framing claim as systemic wrongdoing would impede access to justice for individual class members. Plaintiffs’ reliance on systemic negligence and systemic breaches of fiduciary duty was problematic. Success at common issues trial achieved little for class members and judicial economy. Action was allowed to continue with different litigation plane that was procedurally fair to defendant and that should provide access to justice, behaviour modification, and judicial economy. Plaintiffs were directed to prepare new litigation plan. Dismissal of certification motion was suspended for six months to allow time for plaintiffs to prepare revised litigation plan and for them to give notice to putative class members. Identifiable class and common issues criteria were satisfied. Plaintiffs would be satisfactory representative plaintiffs. Action against Diocese was dismissed. There was no evidence of any direct involvement by Diocese at school in various abuses or even having received complaints of abuse at any material time. Relationship between Diocese and student was too remote to fairly impose duty of care. It was plain and obvious Diocese had no legally prescribed duty of care to students of school. There was no reasonable cause of action in negligence against Diocese. Claim for vicarious liability against Diocese was untenable. There was no evidence Diocese had employer-employee relationship with other defendants. It was plain and obvious there was no fiduciary relationship between students and Diocese.
Cavanaugh v. Grenville Christian College (May 23, 2012, Ont. S.C.J., Perell J., File No. 08-CV-347100CP) 216 A.C.W.S. (3d) 833 (35 pp.).