An appeal by the city of Saint John to block a class-action lawsuit by those who say they were sexually abused by the late Kenneth Estabrooks has been heard by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in the province’s capital city.
Halifax-based lawyer John McKiggan who represents the lead plaintiff Bobby Hayes tells CHSJ News the panel of three justices has reserved decision on this matter and they will issue a written decision which he expects in the new year. Until that decision is delivered, the lawsuit is at a standstill.
“Until this issue is resolved, the matter can’t move forward to trial,” says McKiggan. “The notice program can’t proceed because there’s nothing to notify class members of.”
McKiggan says there were class members at the hearing at the N.B. Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
“[One of the class members] said, why did the city spend all this money, tracking down all of the victims, stirring up all of these emotions, and offering to pay for counselling for what happened, and yet when the victims come forward to ask for compensation, the city denies any responsibility to them.”
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice William Grant gave the green light back in February of this year for the victims to sue the city as a group, a certification the city then appealed.
Back in 2013, private investigators from Toronto hired by the city to look into the case revealed it found 263 people, mostly boys, maybe have been sexually abused by Estabrooks, a former Saint John police officer who was convicted on four counts of indecent assault back in 1999 and served jail time before his death in 2005.