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School council off the hook in Jack Hulland Elementary class action; lawsuit against government proceeds

Settlement reached with council cites its limited means to pay damages if liability found
Jack Hulland Elementary School. (Yukon News file)

A settlement has been reached letting the Jack Hulland Elementary School council off the hook in the class-action lawsuit representing certain students who were at the school between 2002 and 2022. The lawsuit claims isolation rooms, holds and restraints were used at the school. The action against the Yukon government has not been settled and is still proceeding.

On May 2, the Yukon Supreme Court passed a ruling allowing the settlement agreement with the school council while allowing it to proceed against the territorial government. A written decision published by the court states that the school council consents to the order and the government also agrees with the relief sought.

The decision states that in exchange for the dismissal of the action against it, the school council will provide documents and other information for the plaintiffs to use in their continuing claim against the Yukon government.

Prior to this, Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan had to rule on the adequacy and fairness of the settlement and its application to the school council.

The judge found the definition of the class the lawsuit will apply to is objectively reasonable.

The class is defined: “All students and former students at Jack Hulland Elementary School who were subject to holds and restraints and/or who were locked in a room and/or placed in seclusion between Jan. 1, 2002 and June 30, 2022.”

Duncan also found appropriate causes of action and common issues apply to the class and that there are no conflicting issues and that all class members will benefit from it.

The judge’s decision notes that partial settlements of this kind have been encouraged by past court decisions but also notes that they must not hamper the other parties’ ability to defend the action.

The court heard the settlement was reached in good faith and its terms support this.

Duncan also ruled that the plaintiffs would be well served in taking the settlement rather than proceeding to litigation because they are unlikely to be able to recover much in the way of damages from the council even if they are successful. The council’s chair attested that the council’s asset limit is $50,000 and it has no insurance policy.

“The school council has relevant documents and information that will assist the plaintiffs in assessing and prosecuting their claims. The settlement agreement includes cooperation clauses that require the school council to produce relevant non-privileged documents to the litigation in their possession within a certain time period, along with an ongoing obligation to continue to produce additionally discovered relevant documents,” Duncan decided.

“This class action will be certified against the school council for the purpose of the settlement agreement between the plaintiffs and the school council. I approve the settlement agreement as adequate, fair, reasonable and in the best interests of the class.”

The chief justice called the settlement reached a compromise solution that will advance access to justice and the efficient resolution of the claims without prejudicing any party and thanked all the lawyers involved for their efforts.

The class-action is set to proceed against the Yukon government with the opportunity for class members to opt out and pursue an individual claim or no claim at all deferred to a later date.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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