After years of legal wrangling, former residents of the P.E.I. Protestant Orphanage are sharing an almost half a million dollar settlement from the government and the P.E.I. Protestant Children's Trust.
P.E.I. Supreme Court Justice Wayne Cheverie signed the $486,400 settlement order Friday morning, along with a second order to seal all the records except for the settlement amount, the plaintiffs' names and an appendix that lists some of the documents filed.
As part of the settlement, all sides agreed to release a media statement that included the amount paid to the 57 plaintiffs as a group, although it didn't provide a breakdown of how much each person was awarded.
It did say the province paid $250,000 toward the settlement while the P.E.I. Protestant Children's Trust paid $236,400.
The orphanage was founded in 1907 to care for Island children and a new building opened in 1922.
It closed in 1975.
The legal battles began after a group of former residents filed a claim in January 2002 in which they alleged they were victims of physical and sexual abuse while at the orphanage.
In the years that followed, the case went as far as the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld a provincial appeals court ruling that found the P.E.I. government had no duty of care toward the children who lived in the orphanage and weren't wards of the province.
In the media statement issued Friday, the parties said the settlement was made without admitting any liability by any party and was subject to a confidentiality agreement.
"Counsel for all parties noted that while no party is wholly satisfied with this settlement, it is one that all parties have agreed to live with and one that will allow the former residents to move forward with their lives and allow the Trust to resume its funding of charitable concerns," the release said.
The media release also said the parties involved will have no further comments to make because of the confidentiality agreement.
Before he signed the orders, Cheverie said he reviewed the summary of the disbursements in the settlement and thought they were appropriate and fair.
"The case has had a long and winding road," he said.
Cheverie, who took over as case manager in 2004, said there was a lot of compromise involved in reaching the deal.
"A settlement by its very nature involves compromise," he said.
He was presented with several disbursement options and none of them were perfect, including the one the parties settled on, Cheverie said.
“Counsel for all parties noted that while no party is wholly satisfied with this settlement, it is one that all parties have agreed to live with and one that will allow the former residents to move forward with their lives and allow the Trust to resume its funding of charitable concerns,” - Statement
"It's the fairest, I think, way to deal with the funds coming to the plaintiffs."
Cheverie called it a "long and protracted file" and he thanked the lawyers on all sides for their work in bringing it to a conclusion.
In granting the order to seal the records, Cheverie said he had to balance the public's right to an open court system with the individual rights of the litigants.
Once he knew there was a request to seal the records, Cheverie said he advised Island media and invited them to make submissions on whether or not the sealing order should be granted.
The Guardian and the CBC responded and an agreement was reached as to what would be disclosed, Cheverie said.
He also said it was appropriate for the media to be able to intervene because the case involved public money.
Everyone was well served by the agreement because it could have taken months to deal with the legal arguments around a publication ban, he said.
"That has been short circuited."