I am a lawyer in the firm’s class action practice group where I act exclusively for plaintiffs involved in a range of class actions. My main interests concern class actions for institutional abuse and class actions involving crown liability. I have a particular interest in class actions proceeding in Federal Court.
Most recently, I was class counsel, along with my colleague (Angela Bespflug), in the settlement of an estimated $100M class action for women who experienced gender and sexual harassment while working and volunteering with the RCMP in non-member roles (Tiller et al. v. HMTQ). The settlement was approved by the Federal Court in 2020.
In addition to my core class action practice, I pursue individual civil sexual assault claims, both historical and recent. Many of my sexual abuse cases involve institutions, such as religious organizations, school boards and government ministries. I offer survivors of sexual assault a safe place to discuss their legal situation.
Prior to joining Murphy Battista in 2020, I practised in the class action practice group at a prominent Vancouver class action boutique. The early part of my legal career was in insurance defence. For over a decade, my personal and professional interests have been in the socio-legal field, with a particular interest in Indigenous issues and gender violence. I taught for several years in this area at the University of British Columbia. I also have extensive experience in professional legal education.
- University of Alberta (Faculty of Law), LL.B, 2004
- University of Saskatchewan, B.A, 2001
Disclaimer: The outcome of every legal proceeding will vary according to the facts and unique circumstances in each individual case. References to successful case results where the lawyers at Murphy Battista LLP have acted for clients are not necessarily a guarantee or indicative of future results.
Angela Bespflug, Janelle O’Connor and Caitlin Ohama-Darcus, along with lawyers from Cooper Regel, were successful in obtaining an order for certification in this class action against Canada on behalf of Indigenous persons who allege that, at any time between May 14, 1953 and the present, they were physically or sexually assaulted by members of the RCMP during arrest, detainment, or while being held in custody, and who were alive as of July 20, 2018.
Read the full reasons for judgment: Meguinis-Martin v. His Majesty the King, 2023 FC 771.
For more information about this class action please visit: RCMP Indigenous Racism and Assault Class Action.
The class action seeks various damages, restitution, and recovery of specific costs on behalf of those affected by Canada’s Indigenous child welfare system.
Angela Bespflug and Janelle O’Connor were counsel on this action and its ground-breaking settlement that provided compensation for female class members who were subjected to sexual harassment and assault in the RCMP workplace. The action is part of an emerging and innovative body of jurisprudence that seeks to push our Canadian judicial system to accept class actions as the preferable procedure for resolving systemic sexual misconduct.
In the News
Sexual grooming and exploitation claim filed against former soccer coach and the school
October 24, 2022
The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff was sexually groomed and exploited while attending Oak Bay High School by her teacher and high school soccer coach. After a lengthy investigation into these allegations by the British Columbia Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, the teacher received a lifetime teaching ban in August. Janelle…Continue Reading
Federal Court Certifies Class Action Against Canada on Behalf of Ill and Injured Veterans (Updated)
October 20, 2022
Updated: For CBC Coverage of this class action see: Judge says lawsuit accusing government of failing to tell eligible veterans about benefits can proceed (more…)Continue Reading
Murphy Battista LLP representing former student in sexual exploitation claim against Greater Victoria School Board and former teacher.
October 7, 2022
Janelle O’Connor is representing a former student in a civil suit against the Greater Victoria School Board and former Oak Bay High School teacher and soccer coach. The claim alleges that her coach on multiple teams in the early 2000s, sexually groomed and exploited her when she was a Grade…Continue Reading
Join Angela Bespflug and Janelle O’Connor at TLABC’s Class Action Conference – May 19, 2022
April 22, 2022
On Thursday, May 19, 2022, Angela Bespflug will be chairing, and Janelle O’Connor will be presenting at this year’s TLABC Class Action Conference, “Strength in Numbers: Fundamentals and Emerging Issues in Plaintiff’s Class Actions.” The conference is for trial lawyers who want to learn more about class actions and provides…Continue Reading
News coverage of Correctional Services Canada proposed class action hearing (March 8-11, 2022)
March 10, 2022
Angela Bespflug and Janelle O’Connor of our office are in the Federal Court of Canada this week for a certification hearing in a proposed class action against the Government of Canada on behalf of Canadian female corrections officers. The class action alleges their workplace is rife with gender-based harassment, sexual…Continue Reading
Press Release: Correctional Services Canada Class Action Certification Hearing
March 8, 2022
Today – International Women’s Day – marks the first day of a Federal Court of Canada hearing in a proposed class action against the Government of Canada on behalf of women who faced sexualized harassment, discrimination, assault and violence in the Correctional Services Canada (“CSC”) workplace. The hearing will take…Continue Reading
Correctional Services Canada class action certification hearing starts March 8, 2022.
March 7, 2022
The proposed class action is against the Government of Canada on behalf of women who faced gender-based harassment, discrimination and sexual violence while employed at Correctional Services Canada (“CSC”). It has been a long road, but tomorrow – on International Women’s Day – we commence our certification hearing at…Continue Reading
Janelle O’Connor Co-Chairing CLEBC Sexual Violence (Civil) Conference 2022
February 25, 2022
On March 30, 2022, Janelle O’Connor is co-chairing a CLEBC full-day conference for lawyers on how to effectively and ethically advance and defend civil claims of sexual violence. Early bird registration ends March 2, 2022. Register HERE This is CLEBC’s inaugural course for litigators who have an interest in practicing…Continue Reading
More sexual assault survivors turning to civil court
October 4, 2021
Janelle O’Connor is representing a BC woman in a civil lawsuit against two Victoria realtors and their agency for sexual assault. Read the CBC Go Public story (Warning: distressing details): Civil suit alleges 2 Victoria real estate agents drugged and sexually assaulted their client Watch the story clip from CBC’s…Continue Reading
After a criminal conviction for sexual assault, many clients turn to Murphy Battista to pursue civil litigation to seek restitution
April 15, 2021
Murphy Battista Represents Woman Suing Former B.C. City Councillor Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Her When She Was a Teenager (more…)Continue Reading
Murphy Battista files proposed class action against courier giant DHL over “processing fees”
April 15, 2021
Murphy Battista has filed a proposed class action against DHL, alleging the courier has profited by misrepresenting some of the fees it charges customers, in contravention of the federal Competition Act. Read the full CBC news story: Courier giant DHL padded own pockets with ‘hidden fees,’ class action alleges Learn…Continue Reading
Angela Bespflug and Janelle O’Connor support call for culturally sensitive claims process in class actions for wrongs against Indigenous people.
May 25, 2020
Angela Bespflug and Janelle O’Connor recently provided an overview for The Lawyer’s Daily of The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission (NTRC) report, Lessons Learned: Survivors Perspectives. The NTRC report reviewed the Indian Residential Schools Settlement process from the survivor perspective. A key finding in the report is that a western-centric…Continue Reading
Settlement estimated at $100M approved for women sexually harassed while employed by RCMP
March 19, 2020
Settlement estimated at $100M approved for women sexually harassed while employed by RCMP, covered in the March 2020 issue of Canadian Lawyer Magazine. Read the articleContinue Reading
Federal court approves next $100M RCMP sexual harassment class-action lawsuit
March 11, 2020
The Federal Court of Canada has approved a $100-million class-action lawsuit for women who worked for the RCMP in non-policing jobs and were subjected to gender-based discrimination. Read the full storyContinue Reading
Federal Court approves $100M settlement
March 11, 2020
Federal Court approves $100M settlement, March 11, 2020:Continue Reading
First Nations Women Sue B.C. Government Over Foster Care Abuse
February 1, 2020
Janelle O’Connor is representing five First Nations women from different communities around B.C. in a lawsuit against the provincial government over allegations they were sexually and physically abused in foster homes. Read the full Vancouver Sun article: First Nations women sue government over alleged horrific abuse by foster parents …Continue Reading
Lawsuits allege years of abuse against Indigenous girls in B.C. foster homes
January 31, 2020
Lawsuits allege years of sexual and physical abuse against Indigenous girls in B.C. foster homes, January 31, 2020,Continue Reading
$100 million RCMP settlement for female civilian workers
July 8, 2019
$100 million RCMP settlement for female civilian workers, CTV National News, July 2019 (at 4:15 into video clip)Continue Reading
Women Harassed in RCMP Reach $100 Million Settlement after Class Action Lawsuit
July 8, 2019
Women Harassed in RCMP Reach $100 Million Settlement after Class Action Lawsuit, July 8, 2019, HUFFPOST,Continue Reading
Settlement reached in class action lawsuit (RCMP)
July 8, 2019
Read the full article: Settlement reached in class action lawsuit, July 8, 2019, The National Post,Continue Reading
New $100M settlement reached in RCMP sexual harrassment case
July 8, 2019
Read the full article: CBC News, July 8, 2019,Continue Reading
Silencing Survivors in Civil Sexual Assault Settlements
October 27, 2022
In my civil sexual assault practice, some clients wish to remain anonymous, but most don’t. I have learnt that choosing to speak out about one’s own experience of sexual abuse can be an important and potentially therapeutic form of healing and recovery for survivors. Speaking publicly is important to some…Continue Reading
Considerations for Lawyers Working with Survivors of Sexual Violence
February 9, 2022
Janelle O’Connor wrote the article, “Considerations for Lawyers Working with Survivors of Sexual Violence,” that was recently published in the CBABC Women Lawyers Forum, Winter 2022 newsletter. Read the article (page 6): Here.Continue Reading
Government Liability for Sexual Abuse by Foster Parents
November 2, 2021
Cases involving physical and sexual abuse of children by their foster parents is a devastating reality that I am often exposed to in my law practice. The foster care system is meant to protect vulnerable children from abuse and neglect, yet in some cases it does the opposite – exposing…Continue Reading
Civil vs. Criminal Proceedings for Sexual Assault
October 21, 2021
I am a civil sexual assault lawyer and routinely receive phone calls from sexual assault survivors who are confused about the interplay between the civil and criminal processes for their sexual assault claims. The decision on whether to pursue a civil claim, a criminal proceeding, or both – and the…Continue Reading
Sexual assault training for judges now mandatory
May 13, 2021
Significant changes designed to enhance confidence in the criminal justice system among survivors of sexual assault came into force last week. The changes involve amendments to the Judges Act and the Criminal Code and are designed to assist judges in deciding sexual assault cases without the influence of myths and stereotypes.…Continue Reading
Vicarious liability of school boards for sexual abuse by teachers: Is the school still out?
April 12, 2021
The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that teachers play a key role in society that places them in a direct position of trust and authority towards their students. Teachers have significant power, authority, and control over their students. They have control over almost all aspects of a student’s day,…Continue Reading
- “Survivors reflect on Indian residential schools settlement.” May 22, 2020, The Lawyer’s Daily (Originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily (www.thelawyersdaily.ca), part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.)
- “#MeToo Comes to Class Actions,” 17th Symposium on Class Actions, September 16 & 17, 2020, Osgoode Professional Development, Toronto, Ontario.
- “Survivors seeking redress: A common issues trial.” April 2020, The Lawyer’s Daily (Originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.).
- The Role of Gender in Negotiations, December 2019, The Lawyers’ Inn Society, Vancouver.
I am very active in my community and volunteer a significant amount of time at my children’s school. I am an avid, albeit not necessarily talented, squash player. In the winter, I am happiest on skis with my husband, chasing our three young children down the mountain.
Class actions are a unique area of law that even the playing field between regular people and large corporations, governments or other entities. They allow a group of people to demand accountability for wrongdoing and facilitate access to justice for people who would otherwise be unable to proceed on their own.