Court hearing arguments on delay in Broncos lawsuit for proposed class-action

Broncos lawsuit in court

A Regina court is hearing arguments about the best way to deal with the eleven lawsuits stemming from the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Sixteen people were killed and thirteen were injured in April 2018 when an inexperienced truck driver drove through a stop sign and into the path of the junior hockey team's bus at a rural intersection near Tisdale, Sask.

A lawyer asking for approval of the class-action lawsuit says the representatives for nine surviving Broncos players are OK with not bringing their cases forward until after the April 2022 certification hearing.

John Rice of Vancouver is asking the Court of Queen's Bench to delay one lawsuit filed shortly after the crash representing five families whose children died.

Their lawyers say waiting at least another year, if not longer, could affect evidence and witnesses and cause the families more pain.

Rice acknowledges the suffering the parents have faced, but says the court needs to consider what's fair for all Broncos victims.

He told the court because all the lawsuits share similarities, what happens in one affects others, and the "least-worst option" is for everyone to wait until the certification hearing.

The class-action so far includes the families of 24-year-old Dayna Brons, the team's athletic therapist from Lake Lenore, Sask., who died in hospital, and injured goalie Jacob Wassermann, 21, from Humboldt, Sask. It names as defendants the Saskatchewan government, the truck driver and the Calgary-based company that employed him.

Rice says other families have since joined the proposed action, including the families of Broncos coach Darcy Haugan and bus driver Glen Doerksen.

The class-action is also open to families who billeted players, first responders and members of the general public traumatized by the crash scene.

The early lawsuit represents the families of five who died in the collision: assistant coach Mark Cross, 27, from Strasbourg, Sask.; Jaxon Joseph, 20, of St. Albert, Alta.; Logan Hunter, 18, of St. Albert, Alta.; Jacob Leicht, 19, of Humboldt, Sask.; and Adam Herold, 16, of Monmartre, Sask.

"I lost my best friend on April 6, 2018," reads an affidavit filed by Adam's father, Russ Herold.

"I farmed with him. I hunted with him. I snowmobiled with him. I taught hockey to him and I coached him. My family would spend summer and winter seasons together at our family cabin as a family. Adam spent hours on the water wakeboarding.

"Now, nobody goes."

Herold said he would suffer psychologically if the lawsuit were delayed and plans to opt out of the class-action if it is certified.

In court filings, Kevin Mellor, a lawyer for the five families, said the case began three months after the crash and there's been a lot of work done over the last two years to prepare.

He said a delay could create problems because the truck driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, could be deported to India after he is released from prison and before any civil trial.

As well, Mellor said, the RCMP officer who warned the Saskatchewan government about the dangers of the intersection — there was another deadly crash there in 1997 — is not in good health.

Lawyers for the Saskatchewan government recently argued in court that, because of the province's no-fault insurance, the province should be struck as a defendant from the class-action. A judge has not yet ruled on that application.

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