Caledonia Class-Action Settlement

After 5 years of litigation, the parties in a class action dispute arising out of the Caledonia standoff came to a $20 million settlement on Friday, approved by Justice David Crane of the Hamilton court. There are 440 residential claimants and an additional 400 business and subcontractor claimants.

The underlying issue of the conflict, the development land of Douglas Creek Estates, has yet to be resolved. The province has already paid $16 million for the land, $46.2 million on policing, $6.9 million for builders and developers, and $3.85 million for a Brantford ministry office. Some residents are not entirely happy with the settlement amount.

The plaintiffs were represented by Findlay McCarthy LLP. John Findlay stated,

I’m glad it’s over I think it’s a good result; I am pleased that people are finally going to be compensated; it shows that class proceedings can work in Ontario and that there can be some accountability for what happened.
It’s still hard to prosecute class actions in Canada. You are still subject to having fairly substantial costs against you and theres high risks involved in taking the case on and sometimes my wife and I wondered whether it was worth doing. In the end we are glad to see that there was a result and we think that we have been adequately compensated for it.

The Statement of Claim, commenced under the Class Proceedings Act, 1992 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Cayuga, Ontario, Canada, was issued June 16, 2008. On July 30, 2007, Justice Crane ruled dismissed the claims against Haldimand County,

(6) It is worthy of emphasis to state that the cause of action here does not rest upon a duty on a municipality to keep a common way (Argyle Street) maintained and repaired (s. 44 the Municipal Act, S . O. (2001) c.25) , which is a positive statutory duty. The complaint in this action is a denial to the public (represented by the plaintiffs) of common passage. The authority for the proposition that there is no liability upon a municipality for non-feasance, absent express statutory duty, has been well-stated in our law…

(8) The evidence is that Haldimand did enter into such a police services contract under which the Ontario provincial Police undertook the duties of providing police services in Haldimand. The Council of Haldimand, in accordance with that contract, transferred its policing owners to the O.P.P. Accordingly, the Amended Statement of C1aim does not presently assert a breach of duty against Haldimand to provide adequate
and effective police services pursuant to s. 4 of the Police Services Act.

Justice Crane renders a judgment dismissing the plaintiffs’ action against Haldimand County.

He found that the the plaintiffs have a common law right of passage over Argyle Street, but that Haldimand County did not have a positive duty under the Municipal Act to enforce this right.

The class-action was certified on February 8, 2010 by Justice Crane. More complete case proceedings and pleadings can be found on the Caledonia class-action website.



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