Mom tries $50-million court claim over young son being bullied in Regina school

Brandon Harder/Regina Leader-Post. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal/Regina Court of King's Bench building is seen in this file photo.

The judge struck the woman’s statement of claim, but gave her leave to file an amended version, should she so choose

Brandon Harder, Regina Leader-Post

A mother who believes her young son was bullied in a Regina elementary school, and that those responsible for his safety failed to act appropriately, has tried and failed to advance a legal action that, among other things, sought $50-million in damages.

But the judge who dismissed her lawsuit for a list of reasons has offered her a chance to amend it, writing that “a reasonable cause of action could be pleaded” against a number of parties named in the mother’s statement of claim.

The decision of Court of King’s Justice Peter Bergbusch, which is dated Dec. 15, 2023, but was only recently made available online, outlines the judge’s understanding of the issues upon which the mother’s claim was based.

Bergbusch wrote that the mother’s statement of claim alleges her child has not been attending school “due to safety issues and refusal of the Defendants to foster a safe and affirming environment,” referring to a threat of violence, should her son return.

The boy was allegedly “targeted by one or more students at school with threats of violence, acts of violence, name calling, social exclusion, verbal attacks, and intimidation,” the judge wrote.

The mother’s concerns apparently began when her son was in Grade 3 and continued until he was in Grade 5.

In addition to the general allegations relayed in the judge’s decision, specific alleged incidents referred to include one in which the boy notified the principal that he’d been punched on the playground by several students and punched in the head on the bus the day before.

Additionally, the judge wrote the mother’s claim alleged that a student “brandished a nerf gun” in her son’s face in the presence of a substitute teacher.

The mother’s lawsuit named a long list of defendants that included the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education itself, various bodies including the Regina Public School Board, school division higher-ups, and staff from the level of principal through to an administrative assistant.

The decision makes clear the lawsuit was rife with issues, technical and otherwise.

She sought damages, according to the decision, for “her business losses, for counselling costs, for costs of her son’s martial arts training, for mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.”

Further, the mother’s claim, Bergbusch wrote, indicated a ‘portion of the monies received will be used to focus on bullying prevention under a “law” named for her son,’ which the judge wrote confirms the amount sought was “largely non-compensatory.”

The judge called the amount sought in damages “absurd,” and notes it is “so exaggerated that it undermines the reasonableness of the claim as a whole,” noting that “the amount of the loss must be proven and must have been caused by the defendants.”

He further writes the “list of items for which the plaintiff seeks an order is simply a word salad of legal terms” along with a repetition of allegations of bullying and the mother’s efforts to seek a remedy.

However, the judge wrote that he attributes some of the issues with the lawsuit to the mother being self-represented, meaning her legal efforts were made without the help of a lawyer.

And the mother’s legal efforts weren’t the only ones the judge scrutinized. The defendants, who did have lawyers, made submissions in an effort to have the lawsuit stopped, and some of their arguments failed to persuade the judge that the mother’s actions were either scandalous or vexatious.

“At its core, the claim is about a mother’s concern that her son is being bullied at school and not enough is being done about it,” Bergbusch wrote.

But his decision to allow her to submit an amended claim would require her to vastly narrow the scope of defendants to include only: the Board of Education of Regina Public School Division No. 4, the Board’s CEO and superintendents, the school principal and vice-principal, and [the child’s] teacher.

“If the plaintiff is able to reformulate her claim to correct the many deficiencies I have identified, she will be able to have her day in court,” the judge wrote.

However, he encouraged her to reach out to relevant parties in an effort to find alternate ways to address her concerns, which he wrote “may be far more productive and beneficial for her son than proceeding with this litigation.”

She was given 30 days from Dec. 15 to file an amended statement of claim. As of press time, she had made no further filing.