Arguments heard for delay in Humboldt Broncos lawsuits until decision made on proposed class-action
REGINA -- A Regina judge is being asked to delay the legal proceedings of some Humboldt Broncos bus crash victims’ families to allow for a decision on the certification of a class-action lawsuit.
In the time since the 2018 crash, victims and their families have filed 11 lawsuits.
Sixteen people died and 13 were injured when the junior hockey team's bus collided with a semi-truck near Tisdale, Sask., on Apr. 6, 2018.
A proposed class action includes the families of 24-year-old Dayna Brons, who died in the crash, and injured goalie Jacob Wassermann. It is set to be heard in April 2022.
Lawyer Kevin Mellor argued a delay would put his clients' claim at risk. He represents the Joseph family as well as the families of Adam Herold, 16, of Monmartre, Sask.; Logan Hunter, 18, of St. Albert, Alta.; Jacob Leicht, 19, of Humboldt, Sask.; and assistant coach Mark Cross, 27, from Strasbourg, Sask. They all died as a result of the crash.
Vancouver lawyer John Rice, representing the class-action, argued the members of the lawsuit Mellor is handling would also be a part of the class-action, even though they have indicated they may opt out of suit.
Rice said litigants can choose to not participate in the class action suit, but must wait until the class action suit is certified or not
“That injustice of delay is shared by everyone, it’s shared by the other parents too,” Rice said.
Mellor said Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver of the semi-truck, could be deported to India before their lawsuit gets to trial.
But Rice argued Sidhu’s lawyer has indicated the deportation of Sidhu is still up in the air and couldn’t happen before November 2021. Adding, Sidhu will also have to go through a pre-removal risk assessment, which can take six to twelve months.
An affidavit from Herold's father, Russ Herold, was filed in advance of the hearing. In it, he claimed he will suffer psychological harm if his lawsuit is delayed.
Rice argued Herold’s affidavit wrongly included his opinions on matters of law, and another affidavit attacked the character of the lawyers involved in the case.
“This case should be about the merits,” Rice said.
Rice argued Herold would benefit from hearing the entire class action lawsuit, before proceeding with his lawsuit.
Justice Graeme Mitchell said he doesn’t plan to make a ruling on Friday.
Mellor argued anyone is allowed to opt out of a class-action lawsuit and it could take years to finish the class process.
“There is no guarantee that the Brons' action will be certified,” Kevin Mellor said.
He added that individuals can indicate a plan to opt out of a class-action suit before certification.
Mellor said a lot of work has already been done and stalling the proceedings could result in even more delays.
“What have they done? We have completely disclosed what we’re doing,” Mellor said.
He argued the delay could cause mental anguish and financial challenges for those involved.