Former residents of Woodlands who attended the school before August 1, 1974, will finally receive compensation for systemic abuse suffered at the provincial institution. The announcement was made by Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, at a ceremony held at the Woodlands Memorial Garden on Saturday, March 31, 2018.
People who resided at Woodlands prior to August 1, 1974, will receive a $10,000 payment. In addition, people who resided in Woodlands on after August 1, 1974, will receive of up to a maximum of $10,000 taking into account payments previously awarded through the Woodlands class action settlement.
“When I began working on this case in 2006, with the now-Minister Adrian Dix, it was clear that the road to justice would be long and difficult,” said David Klein, of Klein Lawyers, who acts for the Woodlands survivors in the class action lawsuit. “But, the morality of the survivors’ claims impelled me to persevere on their behalf. And we did encounter more than a decade of legal, political and financial challenges. We met those challenges and stand here today – a momentous day – to declare an important victory for the Woodlands survivors. We are also able to declare that our new provincial government is taking the correct and compassionate steps to remedy a dark historic wrong. This is a moral victory, not just for the Woodlands survivors, but for all British Columbians.”
A process will be developed over the coming months to confirm addresses and contact information of the former Woodlands residents. It is expected that monies will be paid out by March 31, 2019.
Woodlands Class Action
The Court approved a Settlement Agreement allowing people who lived at Woodlands School to claim compensation (a money award) for:
- Emotional/Psychological injuries suffered at Woodlands School on or after August 1, 1974.
The Court decided that injuries suffered before August 1, 1974 will not be compensated. Klein Lawyers, appealed this decision but lost.
Only people who make a claim may receive compensation. You may file a claim on your own or hire a lawyer to help you. All claims must be filed within one year of the Notice (pending); late claims will not be accepted.
- Be made in writing;
- Describe the injuries suffered;
- Provide evidence of the injuries; and
- For some injuries, provide evidence that the Province’s negligence caused the injuries.
The Settlement Agreement sets out 12 “categories” of injury based on the types and severity of injuries suffered. Therefore, claims must also identify the “category” your injuries fall into and the amount of money you believe you should receive under that “category”.
Once your claim is filed, the Province (the provincial government, representing the people who ran Woodlands) will have a chance to respond and provide its own evidence. A copy of this response will be sent to you. If you have hired a lawyer, your lawyer may negotiate with the Province before a decision is made on your claim.
Claims will be decided on by an Adjudicator (judge). If you want to, you may speak to the Adjudicator (for up to 1 hour) about your injuries and experiences while at Woodlands.
The Adjudicator will consider all of the information provided by you and the Province before making a decision. If the Adjudicator decides that you have proven your claim, you will receive compensation.
The range of compensation is from $3,000 to $150,000. The exact amount of compensation you receive will be decided by the Adjudicator based on the number, the type and the severity of injuries suffered. The decision of the Adjudicator is final.
Woodlands Class Action
If you hire Klein Lawyers and your claim is successful, then certain legal fees, taxes and disbursements will be deducted from your award.
There are two types of legal fees that will be deducted from your award:
- Class Counsel Fees (15% of your award); and
- Individual Counsel Fees (12.18% of your award).
Together, these fees total 27.18% of your award – less than what other lawyers would typically charge for the same work.
The Class Counsel Fees are charged for the extensive work Klein Lawyers did to obtain the Settlement. This work was done for the general benefit of all Class Members, allowing you to make a claim without having to sue the government directly. The Class Counsel Fee has been approved by the Court and is payable by anyone who receives an award under the Settlement (even if they don’t hire Klein Lawyers to make their individual claim).
The Individual Counsel Fees are charged for the work Klein Lawyers does to file your particular claim under the Settlement. This work is separate from the work required to obtain the Settlement because it focuses on your individual claim.
If your claim is not successful, you will not have to pay anything to Klein Lawyers (although if you hired another lawyer, you may have to pay their fees).
GST (5%) and PST (7%) will be charged on both the Class Counsel Fees and the Individual Counsel Fees. After July 1, 2010, HST will apply instead.
Disbursements are out-of-pocket expenses that Klein Lawyers incurs on your behalf (e.g. photocopies, expert reports, etc.). To recoup these expenses, 2% will be deducted from your award in connection with the Class Counsel work and approximately 1% will be deducted from your award in connection with the Individual Counsel work.
The following chart is an example of the fees you would pay on an award of $10,000.00 if you hire Klein Lawyers to make your claim:
(Total Award Ordered By The Court)
|Class Counsel Fee:
(15% of Gross Award)
(5% of the Class Counsel Fee)
(7% of the Class Counsel Fee)
|Disbursements on Class Counsel Work:
(Net of Class Counsel Fees, Taxes & Disbursements)
Reminder: The Class Counsel Fees, Taxes and Disbursements are payable by anyone who receives an award under the Settlement Agreement, even if you don’t hire Klein Lawyers to make your claim.
(Net of Class Counsel Fees, Taxes & Disbursements)
|Individual Counsel Fee:
(12.18% of Gross Award)
(5% of the Individual Counsel Fee)
(7% of the Individual Counsel Fee)
|Disbursements on Individual Counsel Work:
|YOU TAKE HOME:
(Net of all Fees, Taxes & Disbursements)
This is a class action for former residents of Woodlands School in New Westminster, British Columbia. Woodlands School was a residential facility operated by the Province of British Columbia for mentally disabled children and adults. The school closed in 1996.
A review of Woodlands School commissioned by the Province and conducted by a former provincial Ombudsman, Dulcie McCallum, found that there had been widespread sexual, physical and psychological abuse of Woodlands residents and that there were systemic problems with the Province’s operation of the school:
Names of the residents and staff involved with the incidents will remain private. Details of the physical abuse found in the records include hitting, kicking, smacking, slapping, striking, restraining, isolating, grabbing by the hair or limbs, dragging, pushing onto table, kicking and shoving, very cold showers, very hot baths resulting in burns to the skin, verbal abuse including swearing, bullying and belittling, inappropriate conduct such as extended isolation, wearing shackles and belt-leash with documented evidence of injuries including bruising, scratches, broking limbs, black eyes and swollen face.
A follow up investigation conducted by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee reached similar conclusions:
Stories that were told by the former residents included physical abuse such as being slapped or beaten, sexual abuse by staff or by other residents, having to work on the wards or for other businesses, being confined in side rooms or placed in restraints and losing their privileges. Residents talked about being afraid to speak up for fear they would be punished. They also spoke of the fear of watching or hearing another resident be abused. Some of the residents described how scary it was to live on a ward where they felt that the other residents were dangerous.
The Woodlands Project Team reviewed approximately 100,000 pages of resident files. Nearly 20% of the documents revealed at least one issue of concern. These issues ranged from actual reports of abuse, unexplained injuries or illnesses, unexpected behaviour changes, sexually transmitted diseases, sterilization and the use of birth control in Woodlands, heavy doses of medication, overcrowding, chronic infectious diseases like hepatitis and salmonella, forms of punishment including seclusion, restraints, restricted visits with family and withdrawal of food and privileges like being able to have coffee or to go out on the grounds alone.
The class action was originally certified as including all former residents but the class definition was recently limited to persons who lived at Woodlands on or after August 1, 1974. This is due to the operation of British Columbia’s Crown Proceeding Act which came into force on that date. The decision to limit the class is currently under appeal.
For information about the We Survived Woodlands Group:
For information about the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities Woodlands Campaign:
Court Ruling Excludes Pre–August 1, 1974 Residents From Lawsuit
People who lived at Woodlands, but moved out of the School before August 1, 1974, have been excluded from this lawsuit by a series of court decisions.
This class action was started for everyone who lived at Woodlands. Unfortunately, the government brought a court application to exclude residents who moved out of Woodlands before August 1, 1974. That application was granted by the British Columbia Supreme Court. This means that the lawsuit now includes only people who lived at Woodlands on August 1, 1974 or later. We appealed the decision to the B.C. Court of Appeal, but we did not win the appeal. We then applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, but leave was denied. You can read the decisions of the British Columbia Supreme Court and British Columbia Court of Appeal here.
The reason people who lived at Woodlands before August 1, 1974 have been excluded is as follows. Until 1974 it was not possible for people in British Columbia to sue the B.C. government except in very limited circumstances. In 1974, British Columbia passed a statute allowing it to be sued for wrongs it had committed. In the Woodlands lawsuit, the government argued that because the statute did not exist until August 1, 1974, it could not be sued for anything it did wrong before August 1, 1974. Both the British Columbia Supreme Court and the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled in the government’s favour.
The refusal of the Supreme Court of Canada to hear our appeal, means that there are no further legal steps that can be taken for the pre–August 1, 1974 Woodlands Residents. There are, however, many Woodlands residents and their supporters who are continuing to pursue this matter politically and in the press. These residents meet regularly to strategize, socialize and provide each other with support. You can obtain more information about the “We Survived Woodlands Support Group” here.
For more informatiion on this class action call 604-714-6533
We’re asking for your help as voters and citizens of BC.
The pre–74 survivors need your help.
Let your MLA know that you support compensation for all victims of Woodlands abuse.
David Klein and Shauna Tucker were in court on January 27, 2010 seeking approval of a class action settlement on behalf of former residents of Woodlands, a residential facility operated by the Province of British Columbia in New Westminster for mentally disabled children and adults. Many of the residents suffered terrible abuse while living there.
The Provincial Government needs to be reminded that it must also accept responsibility for Woodlands residents who were abused before 1974. Although it might seem otherwise, writing letters to politicians does help. Our goal is to let them know that voters do care about the abandoned Woodlands survivors.
Please write to your MLA (and send copies to the Premier, the Attorney General and the Minister of Health Services) to show your support for pre-1974 Woodlands survivors. Let them know that you expect your tax dollars to be spent in a way that reflects your values. Let your MLA know that:
- Two independent investigations concluded that there was widespread physical and sexual abuse at Woodlands.
- You want the government to include all victims of abuse at Woodlands, which it could easily do.
- You expect your tax dollars to be spent in a way that reflects your values.
- Just as the government accepted liability in 1974, it can extend its liability to before 1974.
- Most of the 500 Woodlands survivors who are not being compensated live in poverty.
- The oldest, most fragile residents who have waited the longest to have their abuse recognized are effectively being told that nobody cares about what they went through in what was supposed to be a safe place.
Contacting your MLA, the Premier and Cabinet Ministers is easy.
You can find your local MLA by clicking here: www.leg.bc.ca/Mla/3-1-1.htm
The Premier and Cabinet Ministers can be found here:
|Hon. Christy Clark
Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4
Phone: (250) 387-1715
Fax: (250) 387-0087
|Hon. Suzanne Anton
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
PO Box 9044
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
|Honourable Don McRae
Minister of Social Development and Social InnovationPO Box 9058
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
For more information on the Woodlands campaign please contact one of the Klein Lawyers lawyers or visit the “We Survived Woodlands Group” website at www.wesurvivedwoodlands.org and the BC Coalition for People with Disabilities at //www.bccpd.bc.ca/woodlandsupdate.htm.
David Klein carried the torch for the survivors of the infamous Woodlands School.
“Having the honour of carrying the Olympic torch is like a dream come true for me,” said Klein, who has represented former Woodlands residents against the government of BC.
“It’s also an honour for me to dedicate my run to the survivors of that infamous institution — those who just now are starting to find justice, and especially those that are still waiting.”
Thank you for your support.
Woodlands Class Action
The decision to make a claim for compensation is a personal one.
The first thing you should consider is what kind of claim you would make. The answer will depend on your experiences at Woodlands and your ability to prove that you suffered one (or more) of the injuries listed in the Settlement Agreement (sexual, physical or emotional/psychological) on or after August 1, 1974.
Many kinds of proof can be used, including documents from Woodlands’ files, sworn statements from you, your family members, friends or witnesses, expert reports and current medical records. If you hire a lawyer, he/she can help you obtain these documents.
When making your claim, legal arguments should be used to establish that a “duty of care” existed and that “the standard of care” was breached. These are complicated legal concepts that lawyers can help with by developing legal arguments and finding evidence to support your position.
The second thing to consider is whether to make a presentation to the Adjudicator in person. If you decide to do this, your presentation will be held in a private setting where the Adjudicator may ask you questions. This is an important decision and you may wish to discuss this with your lawyer.
While a provincial government representative is entitled to be at your presentation, she or he is not allowed to ask you any questions (although they may give a list of suggested questions for the Adjudicator to ask you). Given that this can be an emotional experience, a psychologist will be available (at no charge) to provide support during your presentation as well as 1 hour before and 1 hour after your presentation.
The third thing to consider is whether to hire a lawyer to help make your claim. As mentioned above, lawyers assist with preparing your claim. In addition, the Settlement Agreement allows people who are represented by lawyers to negotiate directly with the Province about the amount of compensation payable (avoiding going before the Adjudicator).
If the Province and your lawyer can agree to an amount, then the Adjudicator will issue an award for that amount.
“The negotiations were conducted by plaintiffs’ counsel with experience in class proceedings.”
“I am satisfied it is apparent from the material, which is complicated, and, I might say very well organized...”
“Plaintiff’s counsel are senior members of the bar who have extensive experience in personal injury litigation and class actions..”
“Mr. Klein is experienced and able in relation to class proceedings. Over time he has acquired expertise that permits him to make a valuable contribution...”
“The lead class counsel is experienced and has been recognized by the courts in approving settlements in other class actions.”
“Counsel for the plaintiffs in the various jurisdictions appear to be experienced in class proceedings, and to be recognized as skilled litigators.”
“…Plaintiff’s counsel retained the British Columbia law firm of Klein Lawyers to assist in the litigation. That firm has extensive experience...”
“Klein Lawyers is a litigation firm focusing on class actions. The firm is based in Vancouver but also has a Toronto office.”
“The proposed Class Counsel have excellent qualifications…”
“Mr. Klein of Klein Lawyers has over 20 years of experience in the field of class action litigation and has appeared as plaintiffs’ counsel in over 25 certified class actions...”
“Class counsel, Klein Lawyers LLP and Kim Orr Barristers P.C., are highly experienced in class action litigation. Both firms have practiced in the specialized area of class action litigation for over 20 years”
“British Columbia class counsel took on this case on a contingency basis, and faced a real risk of not being paid at all for their services.”
“Class counsel pursued this litigation to completion on their own rather than with a consortium of counsel from various provinces.”
“Klein Lawyers has continuously posted updates about the case on its website during the litigation, and has posted the court decisions...”
“There is little doubt that the lawyers of the firm expended a great deal of time in prosecuting the action, in negotiating a settlement...”
“…Class counsel undertook an extensive communication plan to advise potential class members of the proposed settlement and to advise them of the...”