Class action suit launched against Barnardo's

 December 2009 / PR Newswire.co.uk 

Windsor, Ontario - A $600 million (CDN) class action has been launched against Barnardo's, the largest children's charity in the United Kingdom, as a result of its child migration program which emigrated approximately 30,000 minors to Canada, where many were subjected to abuse and mistreatment.

The plaintiff, Harold Warneford Vennell, launched the class action on behalf of all persons who Barnardo's emigrated to Canada and placed in Ontario, who are alive or who died on or after June 13, 2000. Mr. Vennell is represented by Harvey T. Strosberg, Q.C., of Sutts, Strosberg LLP.

In the mid to late 19th century, Dr. Thomas Barnardo established homes for destitute or homeless children in or near London, England. While some of these children were orphans, some had parents who were alive, but too impoverished to care for them. From 1870 to 1939, Barnardo's shipped 30,000 children to Canada.

Under Barnardo's child migration program, Canadian farmers ("Employers") who wished to secure the services of a child applied to Barnardo's. An Employer was expected to school, clothe, feed and pay the child, and in return, the child was expected to work on the farm or in the home.

"Most Canadians do not know that more than 100,000 children, many of them with parents still alive in Britain, were shipped to Canada to work on farms as indentured servants," said Harvey Strosberg, class counsel. "Barnardo's was the largest of the British agencies to do so, having brought some 30,000 children to Canada, with most settling in Ontario."

"While Barnardo's intentions may have seemed laudable to some, it is now indisputable that many of the migrant children were neglected, abused or otherwise mistreated - and such mistreatment must have been known to Barnardo's representatives," added Mr. Strosberg. "This class action will expose this little-known disgraceful chapter in Canadian history. We hope to obtain damages for the child migrants who have suffered so long in silence."

The class action alleges that Barnardo's owed a fiduciary duty to Mr. Vennell and the other members of the class, and Barnardo's breached its duty by failing to establish or maintain an adequate system of inspection to ensure that Mr. Vennell and the members of the class were given adequate board, lodging, clothing and education.

The class action further alleges that Barnardo's breached its fiduciary duty by failing to screen Employers to determine if they were suitable, by failing to monitor Employers, and by failing to maintain an adequate program of inspection to ensure that Mr. Vennell and the other members of the class were not abused or otherwise mistreated by the Employers.

A class action is a method for persons with common issues to join in a single court proceeding rather than each bringing an individual lawsuit.

Migrant children who were placed in Ontario, who are still alive, or the estate or other representatives or family members of migrant children who died on or after June 13, 2000, may register with class action counsel, at no cost, by visiting http://www.barnardosclassaction.com.

The Statement of Claim, which details particulars of allegations in the class action, may be downloaded or reviewed at http://www.barnardosclassaction.com.

Distributed by PR Newswire on behalf of Sutts, Strosberg LLP Barristers

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