Romeena Kozoriz was building a dream home with her husband Norm Bisallion when she was killed in a mining accident in 2014.
Bisallion was caught under falling material in Sudbury’s Lockerby mine, which was followed by a seismic event.
The mine owner, First Nickel, as well as Taurus Drilling, which employed the mine workers, face a total of 12 charges under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.
But First Nickel declared bankruptcy shortly after the death and is not in court to represent itself, in a proceeding that Kozoriz calls “a joke.”
“We haven’t had justice since day one,” Kozoriz said. “From the time I knocked on my door to where we are now.”
Kozoriz has been in court every day, sitting through sometimes graphic descriptions of the tragic event.
“It was very difficult to listen to the conditions the guys were working under,” Kozoriz said. “And to realize that they went there every day risking their lives knowing the conditions weren’t the best.”
“I could actually imagine [Norm] in the position it was in when the rocks fell. “
She finds it difficult to accept that First Nickel, now bankrupt, does not face justice.
“What is most difficult to accept is that our system allows an accident like this to happen,” she said. “Then they allow the responsible people or company to go away and have no responsibility.”
A fair trial? Not enough
Dave McCaskill, the attorney representing the Department of Labor, says the lawsuit itself raises interesting questions about fairness.
“DDoes this result in a fair trial as regards First Nickel? No, “McCaskill said.” But they chose not to be here, so they dug their own graves. “
Even without the company’s presence, McCaskill says the case continues.
“We always call the same evidence and the evidence comes out the same way,” he said. “I think where [the families] going to be disappointed at the end of the day is if First Nickel is found guilty and the sentence becomes an empty sentence since no one is held responsible. “
Kozoriz wonders what the motivation is for going through the process, if the company is indeed found guilty.
“Why even waste court time at this point when those who are really responsible are not there,” she said.
A question of general deterrence
But McCaskill says it’s important to play until the end.
“One of the key elements of our work is general deterrence,” he said. “If a company is found guilty of something, a message goes out to the entire industry that if you engage in that behavior and something fatal results from it, these are the types of penalties you incur. ”
“So we will ask if First Nickel is convicted, that the judge impose a sentence of some importance that will send a message of general deterrence, to the point of saying that if you can make the same mistakes, you can expect a sentence of this nature. “
As for Kozoriz, she still sits in court every day when she sits, hoping that there may be some sort of closure at the end of the trial.
A panel has been convened and sits in court, with the aim of making recommendations at the end of the trial.
“I would like the young children who arrive to have an apprenticeship, to teach them the right tools and to be explained to them what their rights are.”
“If you don’t feel safe, don’t come in.”