City hall is seeking to have a class action lawsuit over fluoridation of Prince George’s water supply thrown out because the plaintiff is not a lawyer.
According to a notice of application filed Thursday at the Prince George courthouse, only a person acting solely on his or her own behalf can pursue a legal action without representation under the Legal Professions Act.
“Our courts recognize that few, if any, lay persons can adequately and capably represent the interests of a proposed class in a class proceeding,” the city’s lawyer, James Yardley goes on to say in the filing.
It also cites potential conflicts of interest between the representative of the proposed class and the rest of the class, as well as within the class, and a lack of liability coverage for any negligent conduct of the proceeding as reasons to dismiss the action.
In March, Kevin Millership, a landscaper who lives in Slocan in the Kootenay region, filed a lawsuit alleging the city’s fluoridated water is the cause of a degenerative tooth disease.
Millership maintains one in 10 people in Prince George has “objectionable” dental fluorosis, a mottling of the tooth enamel that, in the mild form, causes paper white spots or streaks on tooth enamel, worsening to orange and brown stained teeth with pitted and eroded sections that are more prone to decay in the more severe cases.
He also claims most dental plans do not cover the cost of treatment that can range from $1,000 to $100,000 per person with treatment ongoing for a lifetime in some cases, in addition to the psychological damage sufferers face.
He is seeking damages from the city on behalf of those who have the condition.
In a response filed in April, the city denies the allegations, saying Millership has not identified an applicable standard of care, and suggests the causes of dental fluorosis include using fluoridated toothpaste or mouth rinses or receiving dental fluoride treatments as a child.
Consuming water or beverages from a fluoridated water system other than the city’s and consuming naturally fluoridated water as a child are also cited as causes.
The city also argues those who have dental fluorosis have failed to get proper treatment, such as tooth bleaching, micro-abrasion or getting composite restorations or veneers, to mitigate against the effects.
It also goes on to note Millership’s failed attempt to win his own lawsuit against Kamloops over the issue. Millership has maintained his action was dismissed largely because he took too long to launch the case but nonetheless had established causation between his condition and drinking fluoridated water.
The city also notes that a subsequent class action Millership launched against Cranbrook ended in March with a consent dismissal order that had the “same force and effect” as if a judge had dismissed the case following a trial.
However, Millership has said the order was issued only after Cranbrook had reached a settlement with him that included holding a referendum on the issue. A similar referendum is already scheduled for Prince George this November.
A hearing on the city’s application is set for Aug. 11 at the Prince George courthouse.