Nova Scotia

Common-law partner of Nova Scotia mass shooter sues his estate

The common-law partner of the Nova Scotia man responsible for April's shooting rampage has launched a lawsuit against his estate.

The woman alleges she suffered physical, emotional and psychological injuries and trauma

An RCMP investigator inspects vehicles destroyed by fire at a residence in Wentworth Centre, N.S., in April. The fire was set by the gunman who ended up killing 22 people. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The common-law partner of the Nova Scotia man responsible for April's shooting rampage has launched a lawsuit against his estate.

The woman was the first victim of Gabriel Wortman when he began his attack on the evening of April 18. In her statement of claim, which has been filed with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, she said she was the victim of an assault and battery, and she suffered physical, emotional and psychological injuries and trauma.

She also said she was a victim of false imprisonment and the intentional infliction of mental suffering.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

In June, Wortman's common-law partner renounced her right to be the executor of his will. The estate was initially valued at more than $1.2 million.

Wortman's will

In his will, the killer's assets were listed as including six properties in Portapique and Halifax, which are worth a total of $712,000, and $500,000 in personal belongings, including various forms of savings.

Wortman also owned two denture clinics in Dartmouth, N.S., and Halifax, and bequeathed all the shares in both businesses to his partner as well.

Peter Rumscheidt, the lawyer for the complainant, declined comment.

The woman, whom CBC News is not identifying, was able to escape from Wortman that evening and hid in the woods as he proceeded to shoot and kill neighbours in the tiny community of Portapique, N.S., where they were living. He also set fire to his and neighbouring properties.

She emerged from the woods the next morning to tell police who was responsible. By that time, Wortman had resumed his rampage.

He killed 22 people before he was shot and killed by police on April 19 in Enfield, N.S., about 35 kilometres north of Halifax.

Another legal matter

There is also a proposed class-action lawsuit against the gunman's estate that alleges it is liable to the families of the victims who lost their lives or were injured due to his actions.

Robert Pineo, the lawyer for that case, said the families were aware there was a good chance the common-law partner would file her own lawsuit.

"The case brought today by [the common-law partner] is her claim for the injuries she sustained [on] the night of the beginning of the massacre. If her allegations are proven true, she probably does have a legitimate claim," Pineo said.

Pineo said she couldn't be part of the class-action lawsuit because of a conflict of interest.

"She has an interest in the estate itself that would differ from the interests of the families," Pineo said. "For us, it just means if the court gives her an award, she'll share pro rata with the families."

About the Author

Blair Rhodes

Reporter

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca

With files from Anjuli Patil

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