August 6th, 2020
NOTICE TO BC FIRST NATIONS
RE: Notice of certification and proposed settlement in Robert Riley Saunders Class Action
Dear Chiefs and Leaders,
On July 14, 2020, the Riley Saunders class action was certified in BC Supreme Court and a proposed settlement agreement, pending court approval, was reached on behalf of all victims of disgraced former social worker Robert Riley Saunders. As this information may impact some of your community members, we kindly request that you assist in sharing this information broadly to ensure all victims are notified.
Eligible class members include anyone who was subject to a continuing custody order (CCO), a temporary custody order (TCO), an agreement with a youth (AYA), a voluntary care agreement (VCA) or a special needs agreement (SNA) under the Child, Family and Community Service Act and who, on or after April 1, 2001, were assigned to the caseload of Robert Riley Saunders for at least 90 consecutive days while under the age of 19. Based on an MCFD review of Saunders files it is believed there are 102 victims, 85 of whom are Indigenous.
Under the proposed settlement agreement, all class members will be eligible for the following basic amounts without proof of loss or damages:
- $25,000 for all Class Members; and
- An additional $44,000 for all Class Members who were Indigenous Children (for a total payment of $69,000).
Class members may also apply for elevated damages, for a total amount of up to $250,000. Full details are included in the enclosed documents from class counsel.
Class counsel has proposed legal fees in the amount of 12.5%, plus PST and GST, which will be deducted from the basic payment amount and elevated damages amount prior to payments to eligible class members.
There is a hearing set for October 23, 2020 to seek approval for legal fees and the proposed settlement agreement. Any class member wishing to make submissions at the hearing regarding the proposed settlement or legal fees, or who wishes to attend the hearing, should contact class counsel by email at: [email protected] or call 604-694-1919/1-866-230-2752. Further information regarding the class action and proposed settlement can be also be found at: www.gratlandcompany.com.
The First Nations Leadership Council is very cognizant of the significant and ongoing harm and trauma that has been caused by Robert Riley Saunders and the multiple systemic failures within the Ministry of Children and Family Development. We will continue to follow this closely and to demand accountability for these actions and failures.
If you have any questions or concerns related to this information, please do not hesitate to reach out.
FIRST NATIONS LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
On behalf of the FIRST NATIONS SUMMIT
On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Chief Don Tom
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
On behalf of the BC ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS:
Regional Chief Terry Teegee