Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

An Okanagan woman, who alleges a social worker misappropriated funds she was entitled to while she was in foster care, has taken a small step forward in a large legal battle.

The woman, whose name is covered under a publication ban, filed a civil suit in B.C. Supreme Court naming the Ministry of Children and Family Development and Director of Child Welfare, Interior Savings Credit Union and several unnamed individuals. Also named is Robert Riley Saunders, her former social worker, whose bank records are the subject of the suit.

In court documents obtained by Kelowna Capital News, she alleges Saunders created a joint bank account with her, from which he subsequently transferred funds into other accounts in his name at Interior Savings. She also alleges negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy between Saunders and unknown employees of Interior Savings.

READ MORE: Former Kelowna social worker facing 4 new civil lawsuits

READ MORE: Lawsuits allege B.C. government social worker stole from foster children

The suit is still before the courts, but one legal battle turned out in the woman’s favour regarding efforts to have Saunders’ financial records produced.

While Interior Savings had already produced statements relating to the woman’s accounts, she was seeking further information regarding 17 other alleged victims who have accused Saunders of wrongdoing as well as mortgage documents and other financial information.

Interior Savings took the position that those documents were irrelevant and contained personal information of third parties who had not been given notice of the application.

The court agreed that certain requested documents were not germane to the suit but did order that Interior Savings produce some documents they previously hadn’t.

In an Oct. 16 decision, the judge noted the woman had tendered a copy of a “Personal Member Application” which was signed by Saunders as the applicant and an Interior Savings employee as a witness. Where the woman would have signed, over the words “applicant signature,” “not a signer,” was written.

The woman contends that this document is evidence that Interior Savings allowed Saunders to open an account in her name without her signature.

“She argues that this was contrary to Interior Savings’ policy, which required that a beneficiary sign a Personal Member Application and consent to an account being opened,” read the documents.

According to Interior Savings, that document was not for a joint account, but rather a trust account, for which the beneficiary’s signature is not required.

“The distinction between a joint account and a trust account may be an issue at trial,” read the decision.

However, the judge did find the account opening document submitted by the woman provides at least some evidence that Interior Savings allowed Saunders to open an account for the plaintiff without her signature or agreement.

Interior Savings was ordered to produce any further account opening documents on which one of the alleged victims of Saunders is “not a signer” or the alleged victim’s signature is left blank, as well as statements for those accounts.

“Beyond these specific documents, however, the plaintiff’s demand for all of the account documents for all of Saunders’ alleged victims is overbroad and unsupported by the pleadings or evidence,” the judge wrote.

The notice of application identifies 17 additional victims but does not explain their alleged victimization by Saunders or how his conduct in relation to those individuals is relevant to his conduct or the knowledge of the defendants in this action.

This proceeding is one of 10 actions naming Interior Savings as a defendant with respect to Saunders’ alleged misappropriation or mishandling of funds, three of which allege fraud and conspiracy.

“It is unclear how the allegations of the 15 other alleged victims relate to the matters at issue in these actions. I am informed by counsel for Interior Savings that the allegations in the other actions are different in kind from the allegations in these actions,” the judge wrote.

These allegations have not been proven in court.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ghostriders extend win streak to eight games

The action and energy grew exponentially at Friday night’s Ghostriders game. The… Continue reading

Hands on avalanche training for FSS students

On Thursday, January 9 the day began with a golden sunrise and… Continue reading

Friday fatality at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

Two weekend rescues for Fernie SAR

Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR) was activated twice this past weekend to… Continue reading

To Australia from Fernie, helping those back home

With her home country going up in flames over 13,000 kilometres away,… Continue reading

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

Most Read