The Okanagan Correctional Centre (top), as seen from atop McIntyre Bluffs one February evening, was named in at least seven lawsuits by inmates since September last year. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Suing Okanagan Correctional? File it against the Queen

Only 3 of 7 lawsuits against OCC get response, due to defendant naming issues

The B.C. government has filed brief responses to a pair of lawsuits filed against the Okanagan Correctional Centre, while apparently ignoring those that fail to name the Queen.

Just three of the seven lawsuits filed over issues at OCC in the past seven months have received responses, one of them only to notify the inmate that the lawsuit was invalid due to the name of the defendant on the small claims form.

Related: Another inmate files lawsuit against Okanagan Correctional Centre

In an April 12 response to Alex Boucher, who filed a lawsuit on March 26, the B.C. government only said it “denies the allegations in the Notice of Claim and puts the Claimant to the strict proof thereof.”

As well, the province responded to Mathew John Van Exan, who filed a lawsuit on March 22, on April 13, again denying the claims.

In both cases, the matters are going to settlement conferences on unspecified dates, according to Court Services Online.

Related: ‘Violated and humiliated’: inmate claims privacy breach at OCC

Meanwhile, one inmate, who spoke for the Okanagan Incorrectional series under the name C.C., went to a settlement conference with Chiron Health Services Inc. on March 28. It is unclear what settlement was reached in the conference.

C.C. sued Chiron Health issues with medications at various correctional centres in B.C., including OCC.

Related: Ailing health care biggest hurdle for Okanagan jail

However, four other lawsuits against the jail have yet to receive any substantive response. Scott Klemola, who filed a lawsuit on Nov. 6 last year naming “Chiron” and “Oliver Correctional Centre,” did receive a letter from a barrister with the Ministry of Attorney General.

The letter noted that delivering documents to jail staff “does not constitute service on Her Majesty the Queen in the right Province of British Columbia.” The response included an 11-page print-out of the Crown Proceeding Act for civil claims against the B.C. government.

Related: Inmate suing Okanagan Correctional over alleged assault

The letter also notes that the Okanagan Correctional Centre is “not a legal entity capable of being sued.”

In the letter, the ministry said it would accept an amended and filed notice of claim with proper naming and properly served, but no response has been filed by Klemola since.

The response to Boucher also took some issue with the naming, stating the defendant “must be named as ‘Her Majesty the Queen in right of the Province of British Columbia’ with no additional wording, pursuant to section 7 of the Crown Proceeding Act.”

Related: Second lawsuit in a week filed against jail

OCC has been named in at least seven lawsuits from inmates since September, and the Okanagan Incorrectional series has outlined some of the issues facing the jail. That includes issues with health care, allegations of excessive force from jail staff, violence among inmates and a high rate of rule infractions at the jail.

The Ministry of the Attorney General has previously declined to comment on the lawsuits facing the jail and how that number compares to other jails in B.C.

Find our index of all Okanagan Incorrectional stories to date below, and look for our final part of the series on Friday.

Report a typo or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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