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CANADA: Nova Scotia families seek to certify class action against mass killer's estate

Lawyer says that as of Friday morning, nine families are seeking compensation

HALIFAX — A lawyer representing families of victims of a Nova Scotia mass shooting in a potential class action lawsuit says his clients are hoping to gain "a form of justice" by suing the estate of the gunman. 

Robert Pineo said as of Friday morning there were nine families seeking to certify a class action against the estate of Gabriel Wortman, seeking compensation for the deaths and damage he caused during his rampage on April 18 and 19.

Wortman killed 22 people in five locations around the province in a rampage that began in the small community of Portapique, about 40 kilometres west of Truro. He was shot and killed by police on April 19 in Enfield, N.S.

Pineo says the specific damages being sought against the estate of the 51-year-old Halifax denturist are yet to be precisely determined, but he expects they will be in the "millions of dollars." 

The lawyer also says a successful claim would likely far exceed the estate's net worth, which includes real estate holdings Pineo estimates to have a value of over $1 million.

However, Pineo says the class action's plaintiffs are also motivated by a desire to gain more information about what lay behind the gunman's actions.

He said it's possible more families will join the action, or that other law firms will begin efforts to certify class actions that could later be consolidated into one case.

The representative plaintiff is Nicholas Beaton, the widower of nurse Kristen Beaton, who the statement of claim says was shot by Wortman on her way to work.

Kristen was pregnant at the time of her death with the couple's second child.

The lawsuit's allegations have not been proven in court, and the process to certify the class action could take up to six months.

The notice seeking to certify the class action was filed in Truro with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press