Rajinder Sahota is a partner and personal injury lawyer at Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota.

Rajinder S. Sahota

Partner

Raj began his career practicing corporate law in Toronto (Torys LLP) and New York (Allen & Overy LLP), representing large transnational corporations. After several years of legal practice dedicated solely to maximizing quarterly returns for his corporate clients, Raj returned to his hometown of Victoria, BC, where he specializes in representing those physically or psychologically injured due to the fault of others, corporations, and/or government institutions.

Raj has argued cases at all levels of the Federal and British Columbia courts. A substantial portion of Raj’s legal practice is dedicated to cases featuring complex liability and causation arguments. Raj has acted as co-counsel and settled cases where individual plaintiff’s have successfully recovered damages of up to eight figures. See some of his representative work below.

Raj also heads Acheson Law’s class action practice, which takes on challenging cases featuring physical or psychological injuries, and human rights violations. Acheson Law was instrumental in drafting the Class Proceedings Act, S.B.C. 1995, c.21 and successfully prosecuted the first class actions in British Columbia. In one action, the firm was successful against the government for negligently setting or applying safety standards applicable to radiant ceiling heating panels, and against the manufacturers of the panels for product liability. The firm also successfully represented British Columbia residents in a class action for injuries caused by the drug Prepulsid and in a class action respecting defective silicone breast implants. Acheson Law was co-counsel in a class action alleging sexual, physical and emotional abuse of students by staff and peers at the Jericho Hill School, a residential school for the deaf and blind operated by the province of British Columbia. For details on our current class actions, click here.

Representative Work

In Thomas. v. Canada (Attorney General), Raj and Patrick Dudding argued in the Federal Court of Canada to certify a class action against the Government of Canada on behalf of current and former members of the military that have been diagnosed with mental health disorders and have experienced worsening of their symptoms as a result of systemic mistreatment they suffered at the hands of their supervisors or comrades as a result of the prevailing culture within the Canadian Armed Forces that both condones and encourages this type of mistreatment. Raj and Patrick argued that the Canadian Armed Forces was negligent by failing to provide service, assistance and/or compensation to members who suffer from mental health disorders as a result of their service, in addition to permitting or encouraging systemic maltreatment of members who suffer from these disorders. Despite Canada’s arguments that the claim should not be certified as a class action, Justice Zinn agreed with the submissions made by Raj and Patrick and certified the claim as a class action in May 2024. As with all class actions advanced by Acheson Law this action seeks not only to obtain compensation for class members, but also to effect systemic change so that others do not suffer similar discrimination and mistreatment in the future.

In B.W. v. Canada (Attorney General), Raj, Patrick Dudding and Danielle Toth argued in the Federal Court of Canada to certify a class action lawsuit against the Government of Canada on behalf of elderly inmates in federal prisons across the country who experience violence and mistreatment within their institutions and are denied timely, or any, access to necessary healthcare, medical treatments or medical equipment. Justice Fothergill agreed with the submissions made on behalf of the inmates and certified the matter as a class proceeding in January 2024. Like all other Acheson Law class action lawsuits, while this claim was advanced to obtain compensation for class members, it also was initiated to ensure that there is immediate and meaningful reform within the Correction Service of Canada so that elderly inmates are able to access healthcare and that institutional changes are made to help better protect their safety and wellbeing while they are incarcerated.

In Reaume v. Rossetto, Raj and Emanuela Bocancea argued on behalf of a plaintiff who was in her early twenties when she suffered numerous physical injuries in a motor vehicle accident. In addition to these injuries, the plaintiff also suffered psychological injuries, largely due to her fear that her unborn fetus may have been seriously injured in the collision. At the time of trial, the plaintiff, now a mother of four, was suffering from chronic pain as well as unresolved psychological conditions as a result of the collision, which significantly impaired her ability to work and diminished her enjoyment of life. At trial the defendants argued that the plaintiff should only be awarded minimal damages, while Raj and Emanuela maintained that the plaintiff should receive substantial compensation for her losses. Justice Mayer agreed with Raj and Emanuela and awarded the plaintiff $1,021,953 in total damages.

In Araya v. Canada (Attorney General), Raj and Patrick Dudding argued in the Federal Court of Canada to certify a class action lawsuit against the Government of Canada on behalf of Black inmates in federal prisons across the country who experience systemic discrimination, abuse and various other forms of racism. Justice Fothergill agreed with the submissions made on behalf of the inmates and certified the matter as a class proceeding in December 2023. As with all Acheson Law class action lawsuits, this claim was advanced not only to recover compensation for class members but to force institutional and systemic reform within the Correctional Service of Canada to ensure that individuals in federal prisons are no longer subjected to such horrific, dehumanizing and utterly unacceptable treatment.

In Henderson v. Gettle, 2021 BCSC 841, Raj and his associate Emanuela Bocancea argued that the plaintiff, a police officer who suffered significant injuries in a Tod Inlet boat collision, was entitled to substantial compensation for pain and suffering, out-of-pocket expenses, loss of earning capacity, pension loss, and cost of future care. They supported this claim with complex evidence from eight experts, including five doctors. Steeves J. relied upon this evidence and subsequently awarded the plaintiff $2,090,334.

In K.S. v. British Columbia (Ministry of Children and Family Development) et al., 2021 BCSC 1818, Raj and his associate Patrick Dudding sought to certify a significant class action lawsuit against various government entities on behalf of vulnerable, at-risk, children in the provincial child welfare system. These children had been criminally harmed and were thus entitled to compensation and benefits under victims-of-crime legislation. The thrust of the claim was that the government, in its role of guardian over the children, neither informed the children of their entitlement to compensation nor sought it on their behalf. Sokrood J. agreed with the proposed class representatives and certified this matter as a class proceeding. As with all Acheson Law class action lawsuits, Raj and Patrick brought this claim not only to recover compensation for the harmed class members, but also to force institutional reform with the aim of ensuring such failures do not happen again.

In Heyder v. Canada (Attorney General), 2019 FC 1477, Raj and his associate Patrick Dudding worked with a consortium of five law firms representing all regions of Canada to successfully resolve a national class action providing compensation to members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) who survived sexual harassment, sexual assault, or sexualized discrimination. Critically, the settlement provides for lasting and robust policy changes within the culture of the CAF, and ensures these changes will be maintained via strong, independent oversight measures. The nearly one billion dollar ($1 billion) resolution represents an “historic settlement” for what has been described as “pioneering litigation”. In approving the settlement, Fothergill J. noted:

[82]  The fact that the Settlement Agreement was negotiated at arm’s length and is recommended by experienced counsel also weighs heavily in favour of approval. Class counsel are recognized experts in their fields, and have successfully litigated numerous class actions across Canada. They have considerable experience in settlement mechanics and imperatives, damages methodologies, and the assessment of risks associated with complex and historic litigation.

In Hill v. Murray, 2014 BCSC 1528, Raj and his partner Natalie Foley argued that the plaintiff, who suffered primarily from chronic pain syndrome, a mild traumatic brain injury, and a vestibular injury due to a motor vehicle collision, was entitled to damages for future loss of earning capacity as she was unable return to her pre-accident level of work as a floral supervisor at Butchart Gardens. They presented evidence establishing that the defendant caused the collision when his steel-toed boot became caught under his vehicle’s brake pedal. While trying to get his boot unstuck, he veered into oncoming traffic, struck our client’s vehicle and sent it crashing over an embankment. Macaulay J. agreed and awarded $1,061,224 in damages, including $600,000 for future loss of earning capacity, $23,000 for future loss of employment benefits, and $110,000 for future loss of pension benefits.

In Greig v. Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company, 2019 BCSC 1758, Raj and his associates Patrick Dudding and Michaela Merryfield argued on behalf of a plaintiff who had his long-term disability benefits wrongfully terminated, leaving his family in financial ruin. The primary claim was that the defendant insurance company violated its duty of good faith toward the plaintiff by failing to acknowledge his obvious psychological injuries, mishandling his claim, and ignoring his reconsideration request for many months. Madam Justice Young was moved by these submissions and ruled that the insurer’s conduct was high-handed, arbitrary, and worthy of rebuke. She awarded the plaintiff $50,000 in aggravated damages and $200,000 in punitive damages – a historically high amount. The British Columbia Court of Appeal declined to consider the matter on appeal.

In Vandendorpel v. Evoy, 2016 BCCA 270, Raj successfully appealed a BC Supreme Court finding that the plaintiff was entirely at fault for proceeding through a pedestrian controlled crosswalk in the face of a ``Do Not Walk`` sign, at night and in dark clothing, resulting in injuries due to a collision with a vehicle. The BC Court of Appeal agreed with Raj that the defendant’s speed above the limit, and the defendant’s speed relative to the poor conditions, required a thorough analysis of light sequencing at the crosswalk to determine the degree of fault attributable to the defendant driver, and remitted the matter back to the BC Supreme Court for a determination accordingly.

In Dhami v. Bath, 2014 BCSC 751, Raj argued that the plaintiff had been deceived by the defendant in the context of a real-estate development deal gone bad. Despite the high burden on plaintiffs in proving civil fraud cases, Raj’s effective cross examination of the defendant resulted in Gerow J. finding that the defendant had fraudulently misrepresented material facts to the plaintiff over the course of the deal, and she ordered damages against the defendant accordingly.

In Ballantyne v. General Motors LLC, 2018 BCSC 1886, Raj and his associate Patrick Dudding preserved their catastrophically injured client’s ability to access justice in British Columbia; they did so by successfully resisting General Motors’ application to have the plaintiff pay more than $100,000 into court as security for costs in order to continue his product-liability claim against GM. The Court went on to note that it would “be an injustice to deprive the plaintiff of his right to advance his claim…”.

In The Corporation of the City of Victoria v. Thompson, 2011 BCSC 1810, Raj acted pro-bono on behalf of the Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and Occupy Victoria, who were staging a civil- and social-rights protest at City Hall. Raj argued that granting the interlocutory injunction that the City of Victoria sought would violate the protesters’ s.2 Charter right to freedom of expression, which should trump the promotional activities of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. Schultes J. distinguished “statutorily-based injunctions” from equitable injunctions, noting that with the former, he had only a very narrow degree of discretion at this interlocutory or interim stage, that such discretion could be triggered only in exceptional circumstances, and that this political protest did not rise to the level of exceptional circumstances. Critically, the Court declined to order an enforcement clause given the overall context of the matter and the issues raised. As with other injunction proceedings against civil- and social-rights advocates, the City of Victoria did not advance the matter to a trial where the substantive Charter arguments could be considered.

Memberships and Professional Affiliations:

Member, Law Society of British Columbia

Member, Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia

Member, Canadian Bar Association

Community Involvement:

Director-At-Large, Pacifica Housing Advisory Association

Past Director-At-Large, MOVE Adapted Fitness & Rehabilitation Society of B.C.

Past Director-At-Large, Greater Victoria Bike to Work Society

Education:

LL.M., London School of Economics

J. D., University of Victoria

B.Comm., University of Victoria

International Baccalaureate Diploma, Applied Sciences

International Exchanges

Jurisdictions:

Ontario

British Columbia

Alberta

Hobbies/Interests:

When not working, Raj focuses his attention on issues of social justice, both locally and abroad. Raj often provides pro-bono legal services to progressive, local organizations striving to bring about positive social change.

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