The Importance of Institutional Negligence Class Actions

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What Is an Institution?

Institutions are fundamental to our lives. They are often enormous, far-reaching organizations that we utilize, become employed by, or receive care from. They become part of our lives on a routine basis. We place our trust and confidence in institutions. Common examples of institutions include:

  • Governmental departments
  • Banks
  • Universities
  • Schools
  • Police departments
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Long-term care facilities

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is the failure to meet a standard of care, causing damage or injury to a person or property. When an institution fails to meet a specific standard of care, causing injury to a person or property, the institution has committed institutional negligence. For example, if a school fails to enforce safety protocols, resulting in a student’s injury, the school may have been negligent.  Unfortunately, institutional negligence is a shockingly common occurrence.

How Do Institutional Negligence Class Actions Effect Change?

Class actions provide a voice to the voiceless and help individuals take on large corporations and institutions. In Canada, class action lawsuits have three primary goals:

  1. Judicial economy
  2. Access to justice
  3. Behaviour modification

While each of these goals is important, the third goal is critical in issues of institutional negligence. Class actions seek to correct the behaviour of institutions, corporations, or other entities that commit wrongdoing or are negligent. It’s important that they be not only held accountable through payments to their victims, but also, that they are forced to change the way in which they operate to discharge their duties to people.

Oftentimes, class actions garner national and international media attention. This can shine an unwanted spotlight on them and reveal information they would have preferred to keep quiet. The spotlight on their misconduct can force these institutions to reevaluate their standards and the staff they have executing them. Institutions internally assess what went wrong and begin to implement strategic corrections that aim to prevent future wrongdoing.

If a class action lawsuit is successful, the results can be far greater than the financial payout. Ideally, class action cases deter future misconduct for that institution and others.

Examples of Institutional Negligence in Class Action Cases

Our mission at Klein Lawyers LLP is to help the victims of institutional negligence in their pursuit of justice. We fight on behalf of class members who have experienced institutional negligence. Our team of experienced lawyers knows how to hold these institutions accountable for their actions.

Here are some examples of our current and past institutional negligence class action cases: 

RCMP Gender-Based Harassment and Discrimination Class Action

The class action was filed against the Canadian government on behalf of female RCMP members who experienced gender and sexual orientation-based harassment while working for the RCMP.  The representative plaintiffs, Janet Merlo and Linda Davidson, represented a class that consisted of individuals who were harassed while working for the RCMP from September 1974 until 2019. Over 3000 female officers came forward and stated that they had experienced gender-based harassment and discrimination – over 3,000 female RCMP officers. The case was filed in 2012 and settled in 2017.

The Female Non-Policing RCMP Class Action

The Tiller class action was filed on behalf of female non-policing RCMP. Cheryl Tiller, the named representative plaintiff, along with Mary-Ellen Copland and Dayna Roach filed this class action in 2017. It sought justice on behalf of individuals who had experienced gender-based harassment, sexual orientation-based harassment, discrimination, and other gender-based misconduct. This class action was settled in 2019.

RCMP Racism Class Action

The most recent class action filed against the RCMP is the RCMP Racism Class Action. It was filed on behalf of racialized individuals who worked for, with, or are still employed by the RCMP in both policing and non-policing roles. Unlike the two RCMP class actions above, class members of this case include both female and male individuals who were subject to systemic racism. This class action was filed in 2020 by plaintiff Margorie Hudson, an aboriginal constable in Manitoba. Ms. Hudson alleges the RCMP fostered a toxic culture where systemic racism thrived. Instances of racist remarks, racial-based discrimination and harassment, double standards, consistent failure to conduct a proper internal investigation on claims of racism, and serious retaliation against victims who spoke out were all commonplace. Racism was tolerated and, it seems, sometimes even encouraged. This class action is still in progress.

Woodlands Class Action

Opened in 1878, Woodlands school in New Westminster was a residential institution that purported to provide treatment, education and care for individuals, including both children and adults, with developmental disabilities and mental disorders. Unfortunately, decades of institutional negligence caused serious harm and injury to residents of the facility. Many were victims of horrific sexual, physical, and psychological abuse during their time at Woodlands. From 1950-1996, over 9,000 children and adults were institutionalized at Woodlands. This class action painfully demonstrates how institutional negligence often affects the most vulnerable members of society. Without the benefits class action litigation provides, it would have been extraordinarily difficult for these victims to seek and obtain any semblance of justice.

Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Class Action

This proposed class action lawsuit alleges that the CHL and Hockey Canada have failed to protect players from serious injuries, including head trauma injuries, which has led to long-term suffering by class members. The representative plaintiff, James McEwan, is the former captain for the Kelowna Rockets.  Mr. McEwan retired from the CHL in 2008 but still experiences psychological repercussions as a result of multiple head injuries sustained during his playing career.

For more information on this ongoing class action, please complete the Do You Qualify form on our webpage.

Proving an Institutional Negligence Case

Establishing institutional negligence is difficult and complex. First, it’s paramount to demonstrate that a duty of care existed between the institution and the individual or individuals and establish what the standard of care was.  Keep in mind that institutions range in variety in mission and services provided.  Once the standard of care is established, it’s imperative to determine if the standard of care was breached and if that breach caused the individual’s injury or damage.

It is absolutely essential that you consult a lawyer who is experienced in institutional negligence class action cases and has a proven record of success in obtaining justice on behalf of victims. Taking on large institutions poses many challenges. Understanding that class action law is a unique practice area means that you should seek out a lawyer who has successfully represented class members and achieved justice on their behalf.

How Klein Lawyers Can Help

Klein Lawyers is recognized as one of the most experienced class action law firms in Canada, including institutional negligence cases. David Klein, founder and partner of Klein Lawyers, has been recognised as one of Canada’s top class action lawyers by Lexpert (Canada’s Leading Source of Legal News & Information) and by Best Lawyers in Canada. David and his team have successfully recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for thousands of victims in a wide range of landmark class action lawsuits.