Halifax Personal Injury Lawyer Blog Update

A discussion of the differences between wrongful death claims in Canada and the United States.


John McKiggan’s Abuse Claims Blog Has Moved!

This Blog is now continued at  http://www.sexualabuseclaimsblog.com/

It’s a great Justia blog, built by the talented folks at Justia.com. It’s based on the Moveable Type platform and provides more features like:

  1. Custom design to match my firm website, www.apmlawyers.com .
  2. A built in search engine.
  3. Customized feeds to subscribe to the blog.
  4. The ability to subscribe to other blogs with a built-in newsreader.

Please take a look. You may also want to take a look at my new personal injury blog:  http://www.halifaxpersonalinjurylawyerblog.com/

Judge Expands Abuse Claim Time Limits…Catches Up to Canada

Judge John R. O’Malley denied the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph summary judgment Friday, after hearing arguments based on Powel v. Chaminade, which added new wording to how the statute of limitations can be applied in sexual abuse claims. The ruling allows a court to consider when a plaintiff not only recalled the alleged abuse, but recognized the harm it inflicted.

O’Malley’s decision allowed the lawsuit to proceed to a jury verdict. The Diocese settled within days.

The ruling means Missouri’s law is now similar to Canada. The 1992 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada,  M (K) v M (H),  removed a major barrier to lawsuits by ruling that provincial limitation periods do not begin to run until the plaintiff is reasonably capable of discovering the wrongful nature of the defendant’s acts and the nexus between those acts and the plaintiff’s injuries.

Nova Scotia became the first Province to amend its Limitation of Actions Act to provide that the limitation period for sexual abuse cases does not start to run until the victim is aware of the full extent of the abuse and the injury suffered. In 1994, British Columbia amended its Limitation Act to eliminate all limitations for causes of action ‘based on misconduct of a sexual nature’ or ‘based on sexual assault’. The rest of the Provinces enacted similar legislation shortly thereafter. 

Residential School Survivor Receives First Settlement Payment

The first compensation cheque in the largest abuse claims settlement in history was issued today.

An Alberta teacher who was forced to spend 10 years in one of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools was presented with her cheque by Assembly of First Nations Chief, Phil Fontaine. You can read more here.

The Residential Schools settlement is the largest class action settlement in Canadian history and, I believe, is the largest abuse claims settlement in the world. I posted details here.

Pastor Sexually Abused by Another Pastor: Proves Lessons of Sexual Abuse

Mike Lewis, Pastor of the New Life Center in Cedar Grove, released a statement confirming he was one of the boys whom Shrewsbury Church of God pastor Sandy Martin Cook is charged with sexually assaulting over a decade ago.

Cook is charged with three counts of sexual abuse by a person of trust and 44 counts of third-degree sexual assault.

“For 13 years I have hidden this secret in the deepest part of my being, never to let it out,” Lewis said in a public statement. “Over these past years I have shared this secret with no one. Not my wife, parents, family or leaders.”

Lewis accused Church of God leaders of ignoring reports of the abuse:

“The realization of the fact that this person’s sexual abuses were brought to the attention of other local Church of God pastors, as well as the State Overseer of the Church of God, and that it was swept under a rug and not reported to the authorities is simply appalling…

“I assumed that my abuse had been limited to me alone and that no one else was suffering what I suffered. My assumptions were wrong …

“I now know that I was not alone and I have a right & responsibility to speak up. I would have taken this secret to my grave, but when investigators approached me and asked the question . . . ‘Are you also a victim’, I could not lie.”

I thought this story was important because it confirms so many fundamental truths that I have seen time after time representing victims of sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse by religious leaders is not just a Catholic problem .

The abuse claims that become public are just the tip of the iceberg

Church Leaders cover up allegations of sexual abuse.

Most important: SECRECY PROTECTS CHILD ABUSERS ; when predators’ names come out, other victims of the same perpetrator are  empowered to come forward.

If you are a victim of sexual abuse…tell someone. You are not alone.

Cape Breton Priest Changes Story on Sexual Assault

Catholic priest and convicted pedophile Claude Richard has changed his story about how times he sexually abused his victim.  Richard pleaded guilty in June to assaulting the boy 20 to 30 times over a four-month period in 1987 but during his sentencing hearing Richard claimed to have had a “one night stand” with his 14 year old victim.

Claude Richard has pleaded guilty or been convicted of dozens of charges of sexually abusing children, many of whom were altar boys in  various parishes  throughout Cape Breton.

15 years ago I sued Claude Richard and his pedophile twin brother, Clair Richard on behalf of a dozen of their sexual abuse victims. During his examination for discovery Claude Richard denied, under oath, having sexually abused my clients… after he had already pleaded guilty to criminal charges of sexual assault against the same victims!

I have to wonder if there is some genetic connection between being a pedophile and being a pathological liar!

Province Pays Compensation for Sexual Abuse by Prison Guard

A former inmate has been awarded $40,000.00 in compensation plus $10,000.00 in punitive damges for sexual abuse he suffered by a former prison guard, Roderick David MacDougall.  The inmate sued the Province of British Columbia that ran the prison, the Lower Mainland Regional Correctional Center.

MacDougall sexually assaulted the inmate twice using a combination of intimidation and promises of a pass from the prison for the holidays. The judge was clear about how he felt about MacDougall’s actions:

 As with the other MacDougall cases, the context of MacDougall, who was in a position of  authority in the prison, and of Mr. Hall, who was a young, vulnerable inmate, was clearly  repugnant.  MacDougall took advantage of his position and while there were no threats of direct  violence there was the implied promise of the Christmastime pass.

Lawyers for the Province of British Columbia tried, (unsuccessfully) to attack the victims’ credibility, based in part on his criminal convictions.  Does anyone else find it “repugnant ” that the Province would defend a sexually abusive prison guard on the ground that his victims are not credible BECAUSE THEY WERE PRISONERS?

 The victim, had a horrific pre-trauma history, his mother was a physically abusive prostitute, he developed substance addictions and anger management issues at a young age. The judge clearly had difficulty sorting out the traumatic effects of the victims’s childhood and those of the sexual abuse by the prison guard, MacDougall.

Thus, the challenge this Court is tasked with is to tease out the strands of damage that were  caused by the abuse by MacDougall and the strands of damage that were already in existence and  would have developed in any event, and the damage that occurred later but was without  intersection with the MacDougall abuse, in order to place Mr. Hall in the position he would have  been in “but for” the assaults.

The median award for non-pecuniary (pain and suffering) damages for sexual abuse in Canada is $125,000.00.

It is incredibly unfortunate that the very issues that made him vulnerable to attack by MacDougall resulted in such a relatively low award.

You can read the full decision here.

There are at least 16 other reported decisions involving sexual abuse by MacDougall against other inmates! One has to ask the question, were the people in charge of supervising MacDougall fired suspended or even reprimanded?

I doubt it. 

I have represented hundreds of survivors of childhood abuse. Many of them, because of their traumatic childhood, have criminal records. It is difficult enough for victims of abuse to come forward to confront their abusers. It is appalling that sexual abusers can use the effects of the abuse to try to avoid being held accountable.

John McKiggan’s Abuse Claims Feed