Calgary lawyer being sued by residential school survivors disbarred

A Calgary lawyer being sued by residential school survivors has been disbarred by the Law Society of Alberta and is prohibited from practising law in the province following his resignation last week.

The Law Society of Alberta approved David Blott’s application for resignation June 13. He was suspended in May for failing to pay his annual dues for 2014-2015.

Blott was investigated by the LSA for allegations of misconduct related to his representation of clients in the Independent Assessment Process — the process of applying for compensation through the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement.

In April 2012, the law society imposed restrictions on Blott’s ability to practise law and took steps to ensure his clients were served by other lawyers.

According to an LSA, his disbarment allows his former clients to avoid enduring the “additional stress of testifying in a formal hearing,” which could require up to two more years of process.

As previously reported by Legal Feeds in June 2012, the British Columbia Supreme Court appointed retired Supreme Court justice Ian Pitifield to oversee the transfer of the residential schools victims to new lawyers following a critical review of Blott’s firm Blott & Co.’s practices.

Justice Brenda Brown banned Blott and his firm from continuing to represent residential schools victims in the independent assessment process stemming from the residential schools settlement.

A court monitor looking into the firm’s practice found that 77 Blott claimants received more than 380 loans from various lenders against their settlement. Taking all fees and interest into account, 73 per cent of the loans from one lender exceeded the criminal rate of 60 per cent per year, according to the monitor’s report found.

Another major area of concern related to the involvement of Honour Walk Ltd., a company that provided “form-filler” services in relation to Blott & Co.’s residential schools practice.

According to a post on the Blood Tribe web site, a number of residential school survivors from the Blood reserve located south of Calgary are involved in a class-action lawsuit against Blott and other lawyers.

On Oct. 23 last year, three members of the Blood Tribe — Doris Bird, Andrew Bull Calf, and Tyrone Weasel Head — launched the class action lawsuit against Blott, his law firm and various people in relation to what they allege was “negligent representation. It has yet to be certified. The lawsuit claims Blott and others received more than $14.5 million in compensation through representation of the claimants.

The claim alleges Blott was paid substantial fees — usually equivalent to some 25-30 per cent of the claimants’ settlement amounts. Blott has reportedly denied all allegations.

The defendants also allege Blott signed up more than 5,600 claimants, “without any regard to their ability to properly discharge their professional duties toward these individuals.”

Counsel for Blott said they had no comment on the matter.

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