Success in the ABCA – denial of certification overturned in sexual abuse class action
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On September 8, 2023, the Court of Appeal of Alberta reversed a lower court’s decision to deny certification of a class action advancing claims for historical sexual abuse. The class members were inmates at the Edmonton Youth Detention Centre in the late 1980s and allege that they were sexually assaulted and abused by the prison’s chaplain.
The class is suing the Government of Alberta and the Synod of the Diocese of Edmonton for their roles in operating the prison and placing the chaplain in a position of power and authority over the inmates. The appeal was granted from the bench after oral argument, and reasons were issued on September 19, 2023. The Court held that the lower court erred by failing to recognize that a class action was the preferable procedure given the numerous barriers to access to justice faced by the class members, and that there are several common issues that will sufficiently advance the class members’ claims for systemic negligence and vicarious liability. Rahool Agarwal and Maya Bretgoltz from LOLG represented the appellant, alongside local counsel Avnish Nanda.
The decision can be accessed here: V.L.M. v Dominey Estate, 2023 ABCA 261