Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Announcement from lawyer, Robert Lee: AN APPLICATION WAS FILED ON FEBRUARY 6, 2017 FOR PERMISSION TO APPEAL THE ALBERTA CHILD WELFARE CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT A Class Member, initials RT, has filed an Application for permission to Appeal the Alberta Child Welfare Class Action Settlement that was approved in Court on November 13, 2015. Some of the grounds for the Application include allegations that: 1. The settlement provides no net benefit to the Class Members, as a group, 2. That all or almost all of the settlement monies that are paid by Alberta Child Welfare will go to McKenzie Lake Lawyers as legal fees, 3. The Class Members did not have a reasonable opportunity to obtain the materials that were submitted to the Court and to respond, 4. The Class Members did not get the opportunity to question Sabrina Lombardi, the lawyer for McKenzie Lake Lawyers who filed an Affidavit in support of the settlement on November 9, 5. Some of the materials were filed in Court on November 9, some were submitted to the Court on November 10 and some were submitted to the Court after November 10, but not filed with the Court, yet the Class Members had to respond in writing to the materials by November 10, 2015, which RT argues is unreasonable, 6. The Representative Plaintiffs were not asked if they would agree to give the Class Members more time to respond to the materials, 7. McKenzie Lake Lawyers claimed that the Class Action was only about making applications to victims of crime, when there were actually 5 Class Action common issues, 7. A Representative Plaintiff swore her Affidavit in support of the settlement with a lawyer who worked at the Government's law firm, and 8. The Representative Plaintiffs support the Appeal.



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Announcement from lawyer, Robert Lee:

AN APPLICATION WAS FILED ON FEBRUARY 6, 2017 FOR PERMISSION TO APPEAL THE ALBERTA CHILD WELFARE CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT

A Class Member, initials RT, has filed an Application for permission to Appeal the Alberta Child Welfare Class Action Settlement that was approved in Court on November 13, 2015.

Some of the grounds for the Application include allegations that:

1.  The settlement provides no net benefit to the Class Members, as a group,
2.  That all or almost all of the settlement monies that are paid by Alberta Child Welfare will go to McKenzie Lake Lawyers as legal fees,
3.  The Class Members did not have a reasonable opportunity to obtain the materials that were submitted to the Court and to respond,
4.  The Class Members did not get the opportunity to question Sabrina Lombardi, the lawyer for McKenzie Lake Lawyers who filed an Affidavit in support of the settlement on November 9,
5.  Some of the materials were filed in Court on November 9, some were submitted to the Court on November 10 and some were submitted to the Court after November 10, but not filed with the Court, yet the Class Members had to respond in writing to the materials by November 10, 2015, which RT argues is unreasonable,
6.   The Representative Plaintiffs were not asked if they would agree to give the Class Members more time to respond to the materials,
7.  McKenzie Lake Lawyers claimed that the Class Action was only about making applications to victims of crime, when there were actually 5 Class Action common issues,
7.  A Representative Plaintiff swore her Affidavit in support of the settlement with a lawyer who worked at the Government's law firm, and
8.  The Representative Plaintiffs support the Appeal.

The following documents were filed in Court:

1.  Application
2.  Memorandum Volume 1
3.  Memorandum Volume 2
4.  Memorandum Volume 3
5.  Affidavit #1 of RT (Applicant and Class Member)
6.  Affidavit #2 of RT (Applicant and Class Member)
7.  Affidavit #3 of RT (Applicant and Class Member)
8.  Affidavit of RM (Representative Plaintiff)
9.  Affidavit of JS (Representative Plaintiff)
10.  Affidavit of DVM (Class Member)

The Affidavits that have been filed in Court include materials that show that McKenzie Lake Lawyers warned Mr. RT, that if he loses the Appeal that "we will seek costs".  However, the Affidavit of RM, the Representative Plaintiff, indicates that she does not wish to seek costs against Mr. RT.

None of the allegations in the Court documents have been proven.  The hearing is scheduled for February 22, 2017 at 9:30 AM in the Court of Appeal.

This Appeal will likely decide an important question.  Who decides if the Class Counsel opposes the Appeal?  Do the Representative Plaintiffs, who were victims of Alberta Child Welfare, decide or do the lawyers from Ontario decide?  Earlier in the Class Action, the Representative Plaintiffs were not permitted by the Court to choose their own lawyer and the Court chose the lawyers for the Representative Plaintiffs, against their wishes.

If you are a Class Member and if you support the Appeal or if you would like copies of the Court of Appeal documents, you may wish to contact McKenzie Lake Lawyers, who are the official counsel of record at:

McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP
140 Fullarton Street, Suite 1800
London, Ontario N6A 5P2
1 800 261 4844
albertachildwelfare@mckenzielake.com


Announcement from lawyer, Robert Lee: AN APPLICATION WAS FILED ON FEBRUARY 6, 2017 FOR PERMISSION TO APPEAL THE ALBERTA CHILD WELFARE CLASS ACTION SETTLEMEN
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The price of a flawed child welfare system? $8.7 million in claims

KAREN KLEISS, EDMONTON JOURNAL  01.08.2014
A father, who can only be identified as Merle, visits the grave site of his infant daughter at the Paul First Nation. She died while in foster care and the parents are suing the government for $1 million.
A father, who can only be identified as Merle, visits the grave site of his infant daughter at the Paul First Nation. She died while in foster care and the parents are suing the government for $1 million.ED KAISER / EDMONTON JOURNAL
A father, who can only be identified as Merle, visits the grave site of his infant daughter at the Paul First Nation. She died while in foster care and the parents are suing the government for $1 million.
A father, who can only be identified as Merle, visits the grave site of his infant daughter at the Paul First Nation. She died while in foster care and the parents are suing the government for $1 million.ED KAISER / EDMONTON JOURNAL
A father, who can only be identified as Merle, visits the grave site of his infant daughter at the Paul First Nation. She died while in foster care and the parents are suing the government for $1 million.
A father, who can only be identified as Merle, visits the grave site of his infant daughter at the Paul First Nation. She died while in foster care and the parents are suing the government for $1 million.ED KAISER / EDMONTON JOURNAL
This baby, who can only be identified as Amy, died in foster care in 2011. Her parents are suing the province for $1 million.
This baby, who can only be identified as Amy, died in foster care in 2011. Her parents are suing the province for $1 million.ED KAISER / EDMONTON JOURNAL
Lawyer Robert P. Lee says taxpayers have a right to know how often the government is sued and how much they pay out to the biological parents of children who die in its care.
Lawyer Robert P. Lee says taxpayers have a right to know how often the government is sued and how much they pay out to the biological parents of children who die in its care.BRUCE EDWARDS / EDMONTON JOURNAL
A father, who can only be identified as Merle, visits the grave site of his infant daughter at the Paul First Nation. She died while in foster care and the parents are suing the government for $1 million.
ED KAISER/EDMONTON JOURNAL A father, who can only be identified as Merle, visits the grave site of his infant daughter at the Paul First Nation. She died while in foster care and the parents are suing the government for $1 million.ED KAISER / EDMONTON JOURNAL
Lawyer Robert P. Lee says taxpayers have a right to know how often the government is sued and how much they pay out to the biological parents of children who die in its care.
Lawyer Robert P. Lee says taxpayers have a right to know how often the government is sued and how much they pay out to the biological parents of children who die in its care.BRUCE EDWARDS / EDMONTON JOURNAL
A father, who can only be identified as Merle, visits the grave site of his infant daughter at the Paul First Nation. She died while in foster care and the parents are suing the government for $1 million.
A father, who can only be identified as Merle, visits the grave site of his infant daughter at the Paul First Nation. She died while in foster care and the parents are suing the government for $1 million.ED KAISER / EDMONTON JOURNAL

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Names in this story have been changed to comply with an Alberta law that prohibits identifying children who have received government care.
PAUL FIRST NATION — In a sudden, sickening instant, Sarah knew they were going to take her baby.
She was lying in a hospital bed with her newborn daughter, Amy, just 10 hours old. The baby started fussing and she asked the child protection workers to leave for a moment, so she could breastfeed. They refused.
“The woman said ... ‘I’ll get a nurse to bring her in a bottle’,” Sarah said. “I looked at her and I said, ‘I’m trying to breastfeed my baby, and you want me to give her a bottle?’ By then I was already upset.
“They knew they were going to take her.”
Until that moment, she had managed to keep calm.
They had revisited her failures with her five older children, all of whom had been apprehended. They had asked about her estranged, jailed father. They questioned the baby’s father, Merle, too.
Sarah told them she had a room ready for the baby. She pointed to the stuffed diaper bag she brought to the hospital. She knew drug tests would come back clean — she had pre-emptively tested herself at her doctor’s office. “I was thinking I could win, beat them to the battle,” she said.
Then they refused to let her breastfeed, and she started to heave with angry, despairing sobs.
They left and returned with apprehension papers, telling her she was too emotionally unstable to care for an infant.
She pleaded with the child protection workers to at least take the diaper bag. They wouldn’t. She carried the bag home with her that night, brought it up to the empty baby’s room, and wept.
Amy was taken to foster care and then to a respite home, where she died in a playpen on Sept. 23, 2011, two months after she was born. Sarah still doesn’t know why.
This baby, who can only be identified as Amy, died in foster care in 2011.
Photo: This baby, who can only be identified as Amy, died in foster care in 2011. Credit Supplied.
“We are spiritual people. Our belief is if a baby doesn’t feel wanted from birth, the Creator will take her home.
“I feel guilty because that’s my child. I wanted her. I just couldn’t have her.”
In October 2013, Sarah and Merle sued the province for $1 million.
At least 12 Alberta families have sued the government in connection with the death of a child in care since 1999.
The province refused to release details of the lawsuits, and whether any settlements had been paid out, but the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald found court records for eight of the 12 lawsuits; those show the claims total at least $8.7 million.
The lawsuits range from a $45,000 claim for a baby girl who died of untreated pneumonia, to a $2.55 million claim for a baby girl found in an infant carrier. The mother of two Edmonton boys sued for just over $1 million after the children were injected with morphine and smothered to death during an unsupervised, court-ordered visit with their mentally unstable father.
Four of the lawsuits involve babies and toddlers who were dropped, thrown or shaken.
Edmonton lawyer Robert P. Lee says the secrecy surrounding these lawsuits undermines government accountability, and that taxpayers have a right to know how often the government is sued and how much they pay out to the biological parents of children who die in its care.
Lawyer Robert P. Lee says taxpayers have a right to know how often the government is sued and how much they pay out to the biological parents of children who die in its care.
Photo: Lawyer Robert P. Lee says taxpayers have a right to know how often the government is sued and how much they pay out to the biological parents of children who die in its care. Credit: Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal.
“Lawsuits are about changing behaviour,” Lee said. “If the government got sued every time a child died in care, and it was public, and people found out who made mistakes and how bad those mistakes were, then I think there would be more motivation for the government to change their ways.”
Between 1999 and 2013, 145 children died in government care, a Journal-Herald investigation revealed.
Only 12 families have sued.
Lee said parents of children who die in foster care seldom sue because they are already disenfranchised and the death of a child compounds their powerlessness.
“They’re not sophisticated enough to launch a lawsuit, or capable emotionally or psychologically,” Lee said. “And then their child dies. … To go around and find a lawyer to sue the government — it’s just not within their ability.”
The RCMP investigated Amy’s death, no charges were laid. The government conducted no internal investigation and her death did not result in any recommendations for change. The four-page internal report related to her death says she died from a cardiac arrest, but Sarah and Merle were told she died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. They have been unable to see copies of the autopsy report or the hospital records. A fatality inquiry has been called, but not scheduled.
In their lawsuit, Sarah and Merle allege the province “carelessly apprehended Amy when she did not need to be apprehended,” and that officials have refused to give them any information about how she died.
“(Officials) are intentionally hiding the information,” the lawsuit reads.
Amy was buried on the Paul First Nation, where her parents were born and raised. In mid-November, Merle trudged through two feet of snow in a driving storm to visit his daughter’s grave. As the snow soaked into his jeans, he crouched to dust off a stuffed monkey holding a big red heart. Snow pelted his back. He said nothing.
He returned to the family’s simple, cozy home. Sarah walked out of the bedroom, carrying their new baby girl. Her chubby cheeks were pink and her hair was tousled after a nap. She just celebrated her first birthday.
The child was conceived after Amy died, and Sarah contemplated ending the pregnancy. “I didn’t think I could bear to have another child taken away from me,” she said. A friend persuaded her to keep the baby.
When she went to the hospital to give birth, she couldn’t bring herself to pack along a diaper bag.
But this time, she brought their daughter home.
kkleiss@edmontonjournal.com
twitter.com/ablegreporter

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