How Much Does Your Family Respect You?Injustice, And Even Injustice Within Families Has Been Around For A Very Long Time, And Here Is Just One Story: This post contains quotes from my friend, Ant World. His comments and question are outlined by italic script and quotations.
The former Ontario Liberal MPP and Cabinet Minister, The Hon. Norman O. Hipel, was also a prominent businessman, father and husband. He passed away in 1953, in what is now Cambridge, Ontario, leaving behind a wife, Olive, and two children, George and Norma.
When Mr. Hipel passed away, he left an inheritance to be divided equally between his two children, after his wife passed on. A considerable sum, and his daughter was never going to see a penny of it – for 60 years, that is.
Since the death of her father, Norma has struggled through poverty to raise seven children, even after her mother passed away in 1978. In 2004, one of Norma’s daughters stumbled upon her grandfather’s will in public archives and began investigating. A year later, with the help of her family, Norma launched a lawsuit against the estate of her later brother, George, and TD Canada Trust Co. The claim against Canada Trust was for punitive damages for the alleged breach of trustee duty, negligence, breach of trust, and other failures by Waterloo Trust and Savings Company (acquired by Canada Trust in 1968) in the handling of her father’s estate.
Norma, now Norma Jacques, filed a suit for $20,000,000 against Canada Trust and a suit against the estate of her brother, George. In 2008, the estate of her late brother settled out of court for roughly $560,000 in cash and property. In 2011, Norma lost the case against the trust company, the judge citing that she should have known about the inheritance long ago and made the claim within the allotted time frame, which is 6 years. That would have given Norma plenty of time, according to the courts .. 54 years ago. After struggling for decades to make ends meet, Norma lost her case against the powerhouse Trust company.
Important documents could not be located by Canada Trust, while the court agreed that Norma’s brother, George ripped her off and hid the inheritance. (Ant writes;) “At the same time, the courts held Canada Trust blameless on their fiduciary duties. In other words, while they were supposed to have been managing the affairs of the inherited trust, they could not prove they kept proper records. When asked to show their records on the case, all they could produce was an empty folder. They claim it was customary to discard papers.”
“Is what we have in this instance a case of the judge being influenced by the Power brokers of society? Another innuendo that cannot be proven is that the brother had deceptively taken control of the company and made decisions behind Norma’s back. If he had dealings with Waterloo Trust, how reliable is the position of WT and the claim of conveniently lost papers?”
“Another interesting fact is that when the company that George was running was about to be audited, the building burned down. In the Fire Marshall‘s report, he stated it could not have been more convenient. The Fire Marshall’s testimony could not be taken into court, because it was construed as hearsay – he had passed away, so his testimony was not accepted by the courts. “
Ant also points out, “So how weak is the judge’s decision that says, “he agrees with the plaintiff, but cannot hold the trust company liable because it was too late to file a claim?” Are we telling people in our society if you were wronged, ‘well then, too bad, so sad, you waited too long?’ Do we have different levels of standards and obligations depending on who you are and where you stand in society? Are we telling people if they expected a certain level of service but it was never clearly delivered, a provider is able to drag their feet long enough to discharge their duties?”
Norma suffered a stroke a few years before going to court, and had some difficulty remembering exact dates. That would not be
unusual, as Norma is 91. You might wonder yourself why this kindly woman waited so long, and did not know of the inheritance long ago. The answer is simple; Norma married a man that the family did not approve of and became estranged from her family before her father’s passing. She may not have known her father left her any monies at all, at this point, figuring that because of her choice of husband, her father had omitted her from the will.
Ant poses the questions, “If you cannot trust your own sibling, who can you trust in this world? How could someone so blatantly rob their own blood relative like that?” Good questions, Ant. I think it is important to point out that this was a prominent family once upon a time. Perhaps the family thought they were ‘dishonoured’ when Norma married a man they did not approve of. Does that make it acceptable for someone to treat their own blood that poorly, to watch them struggle endlessly, just because they felt slighted?
Sad fact is, there is a lot of mistreatment within families, then and now. Power struggles within families is a old as history itself. Why is this? As blood relatives, we are supposed to look out for one another, as God intended. The paths that we choose should be our own choices, and it is normal for our family members to be concerned if we stray a little from what they believe is good for us.
In Norma’s case, she married a man and endured decades of poverty with this man. Now, should she be punished for being dedicated to this man of her choice? I think not. That is love in it’s strongest bond. For better or worse, Norma remained faithful and true to a man she loved, and he in return did the same. That is no cause to be punished by anyone, let alone family members.
I applaud Norma and her husband for prevailing and raising seven fine, upstanding children. Children, who helped their mother to seek justice for the grievous slight to her so long ago. Her children, blood relatives, who stood by their mother and respected her enough to help her, unlike the blood brother, mother and father that abandoned her so long ago.
Families do not always band together as they should, and in some cases, will strike out against another member, as was this case. We are Blessed to have children, parents and siblings, so why do some feel the need to be in control of the family and lash out at one member for following the path they choose for themselves? If we believe that a family member is straying from a healthy path, should we disown them, or remain close and support lovingly? I think the answer is clear.
Ant poses the question to you, the reader; “Do you believe the statute of limitations should apply in such a case? If so, why, when it is perfectly clear the trust company had a duty of care for Norma?”
Many thanks to Ant World, for sharing your valued opinions on this topic.