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Hearing over Humboldt Broncos lawsuit adjourned

A judge has delayed a hearing on a lawsuit stemming from the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash after lawyers for a proposed class action argued they should be involved.

Sixteen people were killed and 13 others were injured when the driver of a semi-truck blew through a stop sign and into the path of a bus carrying players and staff from the junior hockey team in April 2018.

Lawyers for the Saskatchewan government argued in court Wednesday that, because of the province’s no-fault insurance, it should be struck as a defendant from the lawsuit filed by families of four players and a former assistant coach who died in the crash.

The claim alleges the province failed to act on improving the rural intersection, despite a deadly crash at the same site years earlier. It also names Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the inexperienced truck driver who caused the crash, and the Calgary-based company that employed him.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Donald Layh adjourned the hearing until January, after lawyers with the proposed class action said they weren’t informed of the province’s application until recently.

“I take particular notice of the grief that those parents have gone through and to foreclose their opportunity to speak to or make a decision that affects their rights seems to me … would be a miscarriage of justice,” the judge said.

He said there’s hypersensitivity around the collision and what the Broncos families have experienced. The crash stands as a tragedy for the entire province, he added.

Court heard there are 11 lawsuits in Saskatchewan and Alberta that involve the crash.

Carol and Lyle Brons are listed as representative plaintiffs in the class action, which also names the Saskatchewan government. The couple’s 24-year-old daughter, Dayna Brons of Lake Lenore, Sask., was the team’s athletic therapist and was killed.

The website of Vancouver-based law firm Rice Harbut Elliott LLP says potential members in the class action could also include survivors of the crash, families who billeted hockey players and first responders.

Its lawyers told court Wednesday that a decision about whether the provincial government is struck from the one lawsuit affects other legal actions.

They suggested the issue be heard as part of the class action’s certification process.

Regina lawyer Kevin Mellor represents those involved in the lawsuit that was the subject of Wednesday’s hearing. They are the families of Adam Herold, 16, of Monmartre, Sask.; Jaxon Joseph, 20, of St. Albert, Alta.; Logan Hunter, 18, also of St. Albert; Jacob Leicht, 19, of Humboldt; and Mark Cross, 27, from Strasbourg, Sask.

They do not want to be part of the class action and have been waiting two years for their matter to be heard, Mellor said. Some of the other lawsuits were filed much later, he added.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said outside court.

“My clients are anxious to get this part of their life behind them.”

Mellor said his clients believe the government is responsible for not making sure there were proper sightlines at the rural intersection north of Tisdale, Sask., where the crash happened.

In a statement, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Highways said a safety review was done following the crash and workers installed rumble strips last fall.

Spokesman Doug Wakabayashi said power lines are to be relocated and trees removed next year.

 

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