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Bus company suing school district over cancelled contracts


The Southern Shore school bus company that had its contracts cancelled in February amid concern over the criminal record of its founder and former sole director is suing the school district, The Telegram has discovered.

Carey’s Bus Service Ltd. and associated company ATC Enterprises Ltd. has filed a statement of claim in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court, alleging the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District had no legal basis on which to cancel its contracts.

Carey’s Bus Service and ATC Enterprises Ltd. are claiming damages including amounts to be determined for lost profits, expenses incurred to prepare a tender, punitive and exemplary damages and legal costs.

A statement of defence has not yet been filed by the district.

“The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District has been provided notification of a lawsuit, which has been forwarded to legal counsel,” a spokesman for the district wrote in an email to The Telegram Monday afternoon. “As the matter is currently before the court, the district cannot provide further comment at this time.”

As The Telegram reported last fall, Carey’s Bus Service founder and longtime sole director Thomas Carey was convicted and served jail time in the early 1990s for multiple sex crimes against children and later received a pardon, which was revoked in April 2014. The Parole Board of Canada would not disclose why Carey’s pardon was revoked. In addition to running the bus company, Carey also did janitorial work at schools in the past.

In response to The Telegram’s investigation into the issue, the school district implemented new rules for contract holders last August, requiring bus company operators, like drivers, to undergo vulnerable sector checks.

Carey — hours after The Telegram contacted him for comment — removed his name as company director and appointed his children, Aaron and Christina Carey, directors instead.

Aaron and Christina provided written assurances to the school district that their father would not be associated with the company, and this is outlined in their statement of claim documents. The district, however, said earlier this year those assurances were broken when an unauthorized person — reported to be Thomas Carey — drove a replacement bus and delivered it to a driver whose bus, carrying students, had broken down.

Aaron and Christina deny that anyone working for the company did anything wrong and say the company’s duties as outlined in the contract were carried out in a satisfactory manner. They state in the documents that the school district had no legal right to change, or attempt to reopen and change the contracts it had with the company, or cancel them.

They say the school district’s actions showed a “callous disregard for the rights of the (companies) and amounted to vindictive and reprehensible conduct that ought to be deterred with an award of punitive damages against the (district).”

The student transportation contracts involved St. Bernard's Elementary, Mobile Central High and Baltimore High School on the Southern Shore. Carey's Bus Service had held school bus contracts on the Southern Shore since the early 1990s, and previously held contracts in Mount Pearl as well.

The contracts were cancelled and a new company called in to bus the students following a series of Telegram articles that sparked the creation of a concerned parents group on the Southern Shore. The group had lobbied the school district and the provincial government to cancel the contracts.

 

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

gwhiffen@thetelegram.com

 

 

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