Court appoints attorneys to represent abuse plaintiffs in Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s bankruptcy

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Representatives for victims of abuse at the former Mount Cashel orphanage in the mid-20th century and two law firms are representing all sexual abuse claimants in the bankrupt Archdiocese of St. John’s in hopes of making advance the process.

“I note the long history of this litigation. John Doe said he had been involved in it for 22 years, Judge Garrett Handrigan said in his decision.

“The pallor of the tragedy that underlies the litigation has hung over this community for decades and has occupied varying levels of notoriety during this time. The plaintiffs patiently waited for the process to resolve to be compensated for the abuse they suffered as children. Taking that burden off them by completing this job is reason enough to complete it as efficiently and effectively as possible. But it also more broadly and positively reflects that society by giving them justice and rewarding their losses. A competent lawyer who represents them is of crucial importance in obtaining these results.

John Doe and two other representative plaintiffs in a landmark case for Mount Cashel’s first victims have been named by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador as representative plaintiffs, while the law firms Gowling WLG ( Canada) and Budden and Associates of St. John’s are representative lawyers for victims of abuse.

“We are pleased with the ruling and accept the responsibility it places on us to help move the matter forward to a fair and expeditious resolution,” attorney Geoff Budden said after the ruling was released on Wednesday, February 16.

Budden has represented abuse claimants for over 20 years.

The church filed for bankruptcy after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to consider its application for leave to appeal a decision of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court of Appeal, on behalf of Mount Cashel victims of the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. But they are not the only plaintiffs in the bankruptcy case.

The church was held vicariously liable despite the fact that the lay order of the Irish Christian Brethren which ran the Mount Cashel orphanage was independent.

More than 100 of Mount Cashel’s original victims are seeking redress, and that number is expected to grow. Other plaintiffs are allegedly abused by other clergy for whom the Archdiocese of St. John’s is responsible.

Handrigan noted that Budden had been carrying the litigation for 25 years and had been careful to prevent the proceedings from languishing and getting bogged down in procedural details if it meant dealing with multiple attorneys and plaintiffs. He also pointed to the expertise of Gowling’s lawyer, Clifton Prophet, in bankruptcy and insolvency.

Deloitte Restructuring Inc. has been appointed financial advisor to the plaintiffs.

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