Widower seeks class-action lawsuit against N.S. gunman's estate
'There must be accountability for this tragedy,' says Nicholas Beaton, whose wife was killed
A widower whose wife was killed in April's mass shooting in Nova Scotia is the plaintiff named in a proposed class-action lawsuit against the gunman's estate.
The legal application was filed with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Truro on Tuesday. It alleges the estate of denturist Gabriel Wortman is liable to the families of the victims who lost their lives or were injured due to his actions. A judge must approve the lawsuit before it can proceed to trial.
The representative plaintiff is Nicholas Beaton, whose pregnant wife, Kristen, was among those killed by Wortman as he rampaged through rural Nova Scotia dressed as an RCMP officer and driving a replica RCMP cruiser.
He shot victims in houses and cars, and burned homes to the ground in several communities. Twenty-two people died in what is one of Canada's worst mass shootings.
"I understand everyone, including the RCMP, were victims of this man's rampage," Beaton said in a news release sent out by Halifax firm Patterson Law late Thursday.
"I know this lawsuit won't bring back any of those senselessly murdered; however, there must be accountability for this tragedy."
The court document includes an account of Beaton's death.
"Wortman impersonated an RCMP officer to stop Kristen on the road as she travelled to work as a VON nurse," the document reads, referring to Kristen Beaton's job in the Victorian Order of Nurses. "Wortman shot and killed Kristen. She was pregnant at the time of her death with her and the Representative Plaintiff's second child."
Seeking to ease 'financial burden' of tragedy
The rampage began on the evening of April 18 and ended on the morning of April 19, when police shot and killed Wortman at a gas station in Enfield, about 40 kilometres north of Halifax.
The class action is open to spouses, children and/or parents of those killed, those who were injured and those who suffered property damage.
The class action excludes the gunman's girlfriend.
Lawyer Robert Pineo, who is representing Beaton, said it's hoped the class action would result in restitution for the impacted families.
"Particularly for those that had minor children who don't have one or both of their parents to provide for them," said Pineo, who works with Patterson Law.
"It's particularly the most vulnerable of the victim's family members that are at the heart of this."
10 families have signed on so far
Pineo said the claim seeks damages for the wrongful deaths of those who were murdered, for the injuries the shooter caused and for property damage related to cars and houses that were burned.
He said it was important to move swiftly in filing the class action, so he can then file another action to freeze the assets in the shooter's estate.
Pineo said 10 families have already signed on, and the firm is currently speaking with four others. He noted the firm did not reach out to the families directly.
"We're trying to proceed in a way that is respectful to the grieving families in the least intrusive way possible," he said, adding that families interested in joining the action should reach out.