Tort Tuesday: Ontario faces massive lawsuit for putting youths in solitary confinement

Hands of a person trying to get out of jail.
Hands of a person trying to get out of jail. Stock photo from iStock/Getty Images.

This week’s tort Tuesday edition features three class action lawsuits; the first deals with youths being put in solitary confinement and the next two involve former students of deaf institutes who allege abuse.

Toronto lawyer James Sayce has initiated the $125 million class action lawsuit against the provincial government, because he maintains that both international and national laws are being violated by putting Ontario youths in solitary confinement.

One such confinement centre, the Sudbury Cecil Facer Youth Centre, has come under fire for confining youths for long periods. The average time of detention was found to be 14 hours. Even worse, at other centres it has been found that children, some as young as 12, are being put in solitary confinement.

This came to light as a result of a report from from the Ontario's Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. They surveyed teenagers and pre-teens were left in solitary confinement.

Sayce filed the lawsuit to get the attention of the provincial government, which it did. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services indeed did respond, saying they’re looking to make changes, and claim there is a “downward trend” of putting youths in isolation.

However, Sayce doesn’t believe it’s acceptable to put youths in solitary confinement at any time: “When is it Ok to put a 12-year old kid into solitary confinement?”

Halifax firm trying to launch class action over abuse allegations at two former schools for the hearing impared

Raymond Wagner, from the Halifax law firm of Wagners, is trying to get a new class action lawsuit off the ground that deals with two former schools for the hearing impaired, run by the province of Nova Scotia.

The notice of intended action for the proposed class action alleges that the province failed to protect students from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by agents, servants, and employees of the province – and even by other students at the school.

“The institution-wide abuse and mistreatment included battery and assault (including of a sexual nature) and unlawful confinement to an abusive and neglectful environment."

One of the schools was right in Halifax and the other was in Amherst and the time-line spans from 1913 to 1995, when the last school was shut down.

There are two main plaintiffs to the lawsuit so far: Richard Robert Martell and Michael Harry Gerald Perrier.

Wagner claims that a lot of people have expressed interest in the proposed class action and that 60 have signed up to be a part of it already.

Former students at Montreal religious school for the deaf settle in class action lawsuit

Former students of an all-boys school at the Montreal Institute for the Deaf have tentatively agreed to a settlement to the class action lawsuit they filed against members of the Clerics of St-Viateur, who worked at the school.

The former students at the institute allege that they were sexually abused at the school between 1940 to 1982. The people to have allegedly abused them were 28 religious staff and six other employees – most of whom are no longer alive.

There were 64 claimants in total who were part of the class action lawsuit, which was authorized by the Quebec Superior Court in March of 2012.

The tentative settlement is in the amount of $20 million, and if it goes through, it would be one of the highest settlements ever paid out by a religious order that has been accused of sexual abuse of minors in Quebec.

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