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Alberta Class Action
November 1, 2005 permalink
This week-old story shows efforts to redress abuse committed by the foster care system. Persons who refuse to use their names will not produce reforms, the only issue is whether they will get some of the taxpayer's money. The same lack of names will make it difficult to follow up on this story.
Groups seeks class-action status for child welfare case
Last Updated: Oct 25 2005 11:57 AM MDT
Lawyers for more than 300 people who say there were abused while under the care of the province's child welfare system are trying to convince a judge to allow them to pursue a class-action lawsuit against the Alberta government.
The group alleges that they suffered sexual and physical abuse, often in foster homes, and that the child welfare agency didn't take the proper steps to protect them. The allegations of the victims have yet to be proven in court.
The move to launch a class-action suit for compensation takes advantage of new legislation, which allows one person's story to represent a group with similar complaints.
"We already have hundreds of people that want to sue over the same topic, so if we were to do this individually, we'd have to do this argument a hundred times or 500 times, and that's just not an effective use of government resource, court space and lawyers times," said Robert Lee, one of the lawyers representing the victims.
T.L., who can't be identified by name, says she was in an abusive environment and the government did nothing to help.
"They were involved in our home, all the time, because there was so much abuse in our home," T.L. said. "We had the police at our door all the time, and nobody ever took us out. So they were involved, welfare was involved, for years and years and years.
"How could they do that to somebody?"
The province is arguing that the stories of each victim is too different for them to be tried as one case.
The judge is expected to reserve decision on whether the case can proceed as a class-action suit.