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Settling For Less: W5

Catalogue Number:  CTV868
Producer:  CTV
Subject:  Criminal Justice & Law, Documentary
Language:  English
Grade Level:  Post Secondary, Adult
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  2021
Running Time:  20:00

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Class-action lawsuits are a way for a group who has suffered similar damages to pursue justice collectively, instead of suing individually. Historically, they’ve worked well when it comes to defective car parts and food recalls, but some that have participated in the process question whether they actually work well in historic abuse cases.

Jim and Marilyn Dolmage were legal guardians in the Huronia class action, a lawsuit against the Ontario government for what happened at an institution for people labelled developmentally disabled.

We spoke to survivors, Pat Seth and Marie Slark, who described being locked in metal cages as children, not having privacy when they went to the bathroom, and even being physically and sexually abused by staff. 

Class-action legislation in Ontario is almost 30 years old. In 2019, the Law Commission of Ontario published a report questioning whether class actions were fulfilling their purpose of “access to justice, judicial economy, and behaviour modification.” 

The report came out with more than 40 recommendations to improve the class-action system. That includes reforming the Class Proceedings Act across a broad range of issues, including how a class action is started, settlement approval and the fees a law firm is allowed to charge.

Class actions in Canada have very specific rules. Could the rules be preventing some abuse survivors from claiming money that they deserve?

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