More Ed Horne sex crime victims sue settlement lawyers Budden and Morris
Plantiffs from 5 Nunavut cases allege N.L. lawyers overpaid themselves, charged HST
More victims of convicted sex offender Ed Horne have come forward to sue the lawyers who represented them in lawsuits against the territorial government, alleging their lawyers paid themselves more than they were entitled to from the settlements.
Horne worked as a teacher and principal in numerous communities in what was then the Northwest Territories but is now Nunavut between 1971 and 1985. He was later convicted of many sex-related crimes involving students, over two different trials.
Horne's victims sued the governments of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and received multi-million dollar settlements.
In August, 32 people came forward to sue Geoffrey Budden and Stewart Morris, lawyers from Newfoundland who had represented them in lawsuits.
Now, close to 100 plaintiffs from five different Nunavut legal settlements are suing Budden and Morris.
According to a statement of claim filed in the Nunavut Court of Justice last week, the first four groups are from Ed Horne cases, and the fifth group were victims of convicted sex offender Kevin Amyot, who was a social worker in Sanikiluaq in the 1980s.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The plaintiffs allege they were not informed of the complete terms of their settlement agreements, what the total settlement amounts were, and what portions of the settlement's proceeds and expenses were attributable to individual plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs allege Budden and Morris paid themselves more than the 33 per cent they were entitled to from the settlements.
They also allege the lawyers charged them more than they should have for fees and disbursements, and also charged them Newfoundland and Labrador's harmonized sales tax (HST), even though none of the plaintiffs lived in that province.
They also say the lawyers wouldn't disclose how much money they retained from funds that were supposed to go to treatment programs for the victims.
In addition to asking for the return of all money wrongfully deducted from the plaintiffs' share of the settlement with interest, damages, and the cost of the current legal action, the lawsuit is also asking for punitive damages against the lawyers for taking advantage of people who they "knew were vulnerable and placed a lot of trust in them."
Lawyer James Morton is defending Budden and Morris. He says all the allegations are false.
"Basically the defendants' position remains the same as before," he said.
"They did really good work for a legitimate and disclosed fee, and there's no merit to the claim made."
Morton says he plans to file a statement of defence, addressing the new allegations.
In the meantime, the plantiffs' lawyer is moving to gain access to Budden and Morris's files from their cases.