Lawyers spark fighting between Humboldt Broncos families with $15+ million GoFundMe account at stake

What a mess… haven’t these people been through enough?

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In the wake of a horrific bus crash in northern Saskatchewan that claimed the life of 16 individuals back in April, the hockey community banded together in support of the victims and pledged an incredible $15+ million to the families of the victims. To date, the Funds for Humboldt Broncos GoFundMe campaign is the largest in the crowdfunding platform’s history and has far exceeded the original $4 million goal. Now the question is… who gets the money and how much do they get?

According to a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a Saskatchewan court has approved the first set of interim payments to the families of the victims. Each family will receive $50,000 of the $15.2 million raised, with the balance to be held in trust for now.

“They [these families] urgently require access to funds in order to meet the financial obligations imposed upon them by the accident, in order to pay bills, in order to replace lost employment income and to be able to continue to care for their families,” wrote Darrin Duell, president of the memorial fund.

Makes sense, but what about the rest of the money? Well, surprise, surprise, but it appears as though the lawyers involved can’t quite come to an agreement on how much each families should receive. In particular the legal language used in such cases argues that victims can receive compensation for “expenses incurred” provided that they’re able to provide proof in the form of receipts. This means that some families may be able, in theory, to claim a larger share of the money than others. This, of course, is something that doesn’t sit right with the families or lawyers Tim Hodgson and Kevin Mellor. As a result, the balance of the fund, well over $14 million, will be held in trust and an independent five person advisory committee will decide how the rest it should be divided. 

Those on the committee include:
* Hayley Wickenheiser, retired Olympic women’s national team gold medallist.
* Mark Chipman, chairman of the company that owns the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets.
* Dennis Ball, a recently retired Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench judge.
* Dr. Peter Spafford, who’s in charge of head and neck surgery at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine.
* Kevin Cameron, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response.

For what it’s worth, at least one family affected by the crash feels that the money should be divided up evenly amongst those affected. 

“I just say divide it, but that’s just me,” Tom Straschnitzki, whose son Ryan was paralyzed from the chest down, told CBC News earlier this summer. “That’s my opinion.”

Whether or not this transpires remains to be seen. Buckle up, things could get ugly.