Judge turns down class action lawsuit against YorkU

Lawyers consider appealing court’s decision.

A lawsuit against York University that was seeking $250 million in damages associated with losses endured by students during the CUPE 3903 strike almost two years ago was turned down Sept. 9.

Juroviesky LLP, the law firm representing the York students who petitioned for the lawsuit, is currently deciding whether to appeal the decision.

Kevin Caspersz, a representative for Juroviesky LLP, said that the Honourable Ontario Superior Court Justice Maurice Cullity denied the certification of the case.

“[Juroviesky LLP] felt we had a good chance this time and that it is still a good case,” said Caspersz.

He said that the judge’s decision was final and that there would be no further reimbursements towards the students.

Alex Bilyk, York director of media relations, said that York stands behind the court’s decision.

Following a teaching assistant union strike that closed the university for three months in the 2008-2009 academic year, the longest ever for an English-speaking university, then fourth-year student Jonathon Turner filed a class-action lawsuit against York administration. More than 5,000 students joined the suit by signing up online at yorktookmymoney.com.

According to Caspersz, the lawsuit claimed damages of a compressed academic year (from 26 weeks of study to 23 weeks), loss of the February reading week, intrusion into summer jobs and loss of rent, parking fees and tuition.

Krisna Saravanamuttu, president of the York Federation of Students (YFS), said that while it is unfortunate students could not receive some money back, the student union did launch a tuition refund campaign in which York participated willingly, agreeing to compensate students with credits for classes they have missed.

The YFS also demanded a 12 percent refund from the York administration for all tuition fees paid by full and part-time students, which was denied.

Peter Shurman, Thornhill MPP, back students during the strike and urged CUPE 3903 to return to work.

“I don’t blame the students for taking action,” he said. “They deserve compensation.”

Shurman stated that if his team wins the upcoming election, the issue of union petitions at the university level will be brought to the table.

“With 50,000 students held at bay, with no voice – especially when only a particular union has a grievance – it has to be addressed in a method that doesn’t put the students education on hold, [and still] satisfies the demands of the union.”

Saravanamuttu agreed.

“The employer and workers need to speak to each other in good faith to avoid labour disruptions,” he said.

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