New Brunswick Court of Appeal releases decision upholding certification of 3 of 4 issues.
Kenneth Estabrooks, a former City of Saint John, New Brunswick police sergeant and city works employee was convicted of sexually assaulting a number of children while employed with the City of Saint John.
Although Estabrooks is now dead, a class action lawsuit has been launched against the City of Saint John, its police department and its police commission. The proposed representative plaintiff Robert Hayes claims that because these organizations employed Estabrooks, they had a responsibility to supervise him and monitor his conduct. Hayes claims that the defendants failed to stop Estabrooks from abusing his position of authority, and therefore the defendants should be ordered to pay compensation for the pain and suffering inflicted on Estabrooks’ victims.
Kenneth Estabrooks worked as a police officer for the City of Saint John for several decades. In 1975, he was first confronted with allegations of sexual abuse of children. Estabrooks admitted to the crime, but the City of Saint John did not fire him from his position, nor was he formally charged. Instead, the city transferred him into the city works department. He remained in this department until he retired.
In 1997, more victims of Estabrooks’ abuse came forward. A formal investigation of Estabrooks was launched, and he was convicted of sexual assault. The court sentenced him to six years in prison. Estabrooks died in 2005.
Since Estabrooks’ death, more people have come forward with claims of abuse. Because the City of Saint John, the police commission and the police department failed to protect the public from Estabrooks, they are now facing a class action lawsuit. According to a private investigator’s report, as many as 263 people may have been sexually abused by Estabrooks during his time as a police officer.
For the convenience of the public here are some of the documents relevant to the case:
The City of Saint John made another attempt Thursday to block a class action lawsuit on behalf of adults who say they were sexually abused as minors by the late police officer Kenneth Estabrooks.
Justice W.T. Grant certifying the plaintiff’s class action against the City of Saint John.
This is decision of Justice Grant number 6. Justice W. T. Grant ordered the City of Saint John to pay the representative plaintiff Robert Hayes
$25,000.00 in costs as a result of the plaintiffs successful certification motion.
This document provides notice of the action filed by the plaintiff (Mr. Robert Hayes on behalf of the rest of the class). This document summarizes the claims made against the defendants with regard to Kenneth Estabrooks, the defendants’ liability for Estabrooks’ actions, the damages Estabrooks’ actions caused and the plaintiffs’ requested relief.
This document covers Mr. Hayes’ interactions with and knowledge of Kenneth Estabrooks, as well as his complaints against the Saint John Police Department and the other defendants. This document also discloses Mr. Hayes’ intention to act as the representative plaintiff. During the course of the litigation, Mr. Hayes promises to represent all members of the class, assist in communications with class members and solicit their input when necessary. Finally, this document includes a copy of the results of an in-depth investigation conducted by Investigative Solutions Network, a private investigation firm hired by the City of Saint John to investigate the allegations pertaining to Kenneth Estabrooks.
The Statement of Defence is the defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s action. It was filed by the City of Saint John, the Saint John Police Commission and the Saint John Police on July 17, 2014. This document addressed the points made in the Statement of Claim. While the defendants admit some of the allegations contained in the Statement of Claim, they deny the substantive allegations. The defendants claim to have had no knowledge of some of the allegations made in the Statement of Claim. The defendants claim that Estabrooks was not acting within the scope of his employment when the alleged abuses occurred, that they had reasonable employee supervision and conduct policies in place when Estabrooks was employed and that they are not liable for any of the damages claimed by the plaintiff.
The Amended Statement of Defence is an updated statement that was filed by the defendants on October 30, 2015. The principal change made in this statement related to the defendants’ assessment of Estabrooks’ relationship to the city. In the original statement, the defendants admitted that Estabrooks was an employee of the City of Saint John from 1953 to 1983. In the amended document, however, the defendants allege that Estabrooks was a public office holder, rather than a city employee, from March 20, 1953 to October 29, 1975. The defendants still admit that Estabrooks was a city employee between November of 1975 and December of 1983.
The Defendants asked the court to order the Plaintiff’s law firm to provide the names of everyone who had contacted the law firm wanting to participate in the class action. The Plaintiff opposed the order. Justice Grant ruled that the Plaintiff was not required to produce the names of potential class members and dismissed the Defendants’ motion.
The plaintiff made a motion for approval of a third party funding agreement. Defendants requested disclosure of the funding agreement. Plaintiff asked that the court seal the agreement.
Justice Grant ruled that the contents of the agreement are protected by litigation privilege and should remain under seal.
The plaintiff made a motion for approval of a third party funding agreement. Defendants opposed approval of agreement and requested if agreement was approved that plaintiff be ordered to pay security for costs. Justice Grant approved the funding agreement and ruled there was no principled reason to order security for costs.
If you were abused by Kenneth Estabrooks between the years of 1953 and 1998, you may qualify to join the class action lawsuit filed against the City of Saint John, its police commission and its police department. Contact our office today at (877) 423-2050 to learn more about joining the class action.