Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 26, 2016 - 1:10 pm

Nunavut abuse victims’ lawsuit descends into spat among lawyers

Court documents show lawyers fighting lawyers in civil suit over Ed Horne compensation

THOMAS ROHNER
Lawyers accused of skimming compensation money from victims during sex assault civil trial against notorious predator Ed Horne now accuse the new victims' lawyers of doing the same thing. (FILE PHOTO)
Lawyers accused of skimming compensation money from victims during sex assault civil trial against notorious predator Ed Horne now accuse the new victims' lawyers of doing the same thing. (FILE PHOTO)

Lawyers fighting lawyers fighting lawyers.

That’s what a court document shows at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit in a case that involves victims of sexual predator Ed Horne.

The law firm Ahlstrom, Wright, Oliver & Cooper LLP represents more than 30 victims involved in the second massive Horne compensation settlement who filed a civil suit in October 2015 against the lawyers who represented them in that settlement.

That settlement, struck in 2011 for $15.5-million, came to be known as Horne II.

The civil suit that the victims filed alleges that lawyers from Budden, Morris Law Offices cheated the victims out of some of their money and purposely hid behind legal language their clients couldn’t understand.

Those allegations prompted the Nunavut Law Society to investigate in a separate court proceeding.

But on Aug. 29, a lawyer representing Budden, Morris Law Offices filed a third-party notice with the Nunavut court alleging Ahlstrom, Wright, Oliver & Cooper LLP were themselves negligent with some of the same clients and in part of their claim.

Therefore the suit filed against Budden Morris Law Offices by lawyer Alan Regel should be dismissed, defence lawyer James Morton said in that notice.

The original claim against Budden Morris has been withdrawn, but it has been replaced by a new action that covers five groups of former Budden Morris clients.

None of these allegations have been proven in court.

In a short document, dense with legal arguments, Morton said his clients from Budden, Morris Law Office are accused of wrongfully deducting a tax from the victims in the Horne II settlement.

But some of those same victims also became clients of Regel’s law firm.

And if Morton’s client wrongfully deducted taxes, then so too did Regel’s law firm, Morton argued.

“What we’re saying is if Budden, Morris was negligent, then the new lawyers who took over were also negligent because they had the opportunity to fix the problem but didn’t,” Morton explained over the phone from Toronto.

If that’s true, that’s grounds to dismiss the suit filed by Regel, Morton said. He added, that his clients deny the allegations set out in Regel’s claims.

But Regel seems to have anticipated this challenge in his original civil suit.

“[Budden, Morris Law Offices] attempted to dissuade [the victims’] counsel from taking action to recover the monies wrongfully withheld by suggesting their new counsel’s own competence, diligence and ethics would be brought into question if an action was commenced by them on behalf of the [victims,]” Regel said in that suit.

Justice Neil Sharkey will hear arguments on the motion on Oct. 21 at 9:30 a.m.

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