"I'm here to see it and witness it." - Lead plaintiff Tony Smith
There was another important milestone Friday in the class-action lawsuit involving former residents of Nova Scotia's Home for Colored Children, as the court was formally presented with the $29-million settlement package.
Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Arthur LeBlanc received the settlement and moved it on to the next stage.
Lawyers will spend a month advertising the agreement, to see if anyone else wants to share in the money. At least 166 people have joined the case, claiming they were abused at the orphanage between the 1950s and 1980s.
Settlement to include those not part of original suit
Tony Smith, the lead plaintiff in the case, said the settlement from the province will include many people who were not part of the original class-action lawsuit but were residents of the home.
He was in court Friday to watch the presentation.
"I just couldn’t believe it," he said. "I'm here to see it and witness it."
Last December, LeBlanc certified the lawsuit against the province for failing to provide for children in its care.
In his 94-page decision, LeBlanc said wards of the province who were placed in the care of the home from 1951 to 1990 had a clear right to sue for negligence. However, others placed in the orphanage by relatives or children's aid societies may have to argue further to be included in the class action.
On Tuesday, the province announced that a tentative agreement in the class-action lawsuit had been reached.
Under the agreement, $29 million will be split among former residents of the home.
The case will be back in court on July 7. At that point, LeBlanc will rule on whether the settlement is acceptable. If all goes according to plan, the money could start going out sometime in October.
Justice shakes lawyers' hands
LeBlanc has heard most of this case. On Friday, after the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Ray Wagner, presented the deal, LeBlanc came down off the bench to shake Wagner's hand and the hands of the provincial government lawyers.
Last year, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court approved a separate $5-million settlement between the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children and the home's former residents. That settlement was separate from this class-action suit.