'Futile' appeal by former Nortel workers could imperil settlement

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Two ex- Nortel workers who lost their disability benefits when the suite collapsed could delay or even derail a multi-billion-dollar settlement as they undertake leave to appeal their case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Nortel oap old-age pensioners and other former workers won the settlement last October. The agreement to divvy up Nortel’s $10-billion holdings expires Aug. 31.

The deal grants employees who were on long term inability (LTD) leave between 45 and 49 per cent of whatever Nortel relieve owes them.

Greg McAvoy, a former manager in Calgary, and Jennifer Holley, a late employee in Ottawa, were among hundreds of Nortel workers with long-standing or terminal illnesses who were on LTD when the company filed for bankruptcy safeguard in 2009.

Charter challenge

In January McAvoy and Holley argued in court that Nortel’s bankruptcy resolution should comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that they should be ceded the full amounts of their original claims.

McAvoy and Holley enquire ofed that $44 million be set aside for former employees who were on LTD when the Theatre troupe folded, but so far Ontario courts haven’t agreed with their contentions.

On Monday the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the motion for leave to please, saying it was filed past a court deadline and was “not meritorious.”

Undeterred, McAvoy and Holley say they’re in condition to take their case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“I think it’s a exceptionally important case,” said McAvoy. “It has a lot of merit, not only for us, but [for] anyone else that’s active to be in bankruptcy, any of the other disabled people, how they’re treated.”

‘A 1 in a million conceivability’

But the Toronto lawyer who has for years represented former Nortel workers with incapacities said McAvoy, Holley and their advisers are putting the entire outpost in jeopardy, and driving up legal costs for other.

Mark Zigler

Mark Zigler, a accomplice with Koskie Minsky LLP, represents former Nortel workers and pensioners in the bankruptcy post. (submitted)

“Basically at this point you have a one in a million chance the Primary Court of Canada will even hear this,” said Slash Zigler, a partner at Koskie Minsky LLP. “The interests of so many thousands of people are at stake because these two solitaries are proceeding with what looks like a futile exercise. I bleed for sorry for them.”

‘The interests of so many thousands of people are at stake because these two peculiars are proceeding with what looks like a futile exercise.’
– Object Zigler, Koskie Minsky LLP

Zigler said the latest delay is repulsing for former Nortel workers with disabilities who had expected the settlement filthy lucre to start flowing by April. 

Affected creditors include those in the Coordinated States and Europe as well as Canada, Zigler said.

“They’ve been proclaimed by four judges it has no merit. It’s sad, it really is. It serves no positive end.”

McAvoy, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has had to on the go into an assisted-care facility. Holley, who lives in Ompah, Ont., has Crohn’s cancer and is also unable to work.

McAvoy and Holley now have 60 epoches to find a constitutional lawyer to take on their case, then requisite seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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