Quebec Goes After Canadian Pacific Over Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster
Quebec has placed Canadian Pacific Railway in its legal sights after the company refused to pay into a $440−million fund to compensate victims of the fiery oil train derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in Lac−Mégantic, Quebec in July 2013, incinerating its downtown core.
The train was owned and operated by Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway Ltd., which declared bankruptcy after the derailment, and CP “maintains it has no responsibility for the disaster because it occurred after it handed off the train to MMA for the final leg of the journey to Atlantic Canada,” the National Observer reports. Last year, Canadian Pacific refused to join 25 other companies that reached a liability settlement in the case in return for immunity against further prosecution in the matter.
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Now, Quebec is seeking to modify a $409−million lawsuit it filed last year against CP, in which it claimed the railroad “should have known” that crude being shipped, which came from North Dakota, was unusually volatile and prone to explode, and “omitted to take the necessary steps to guarantee the crude didn’t cause damage to people or to the environment.”
In its amended claim, Quebec asserts that Canadian Pacific was liable for the crude’s safe transport “from its point of initial possession until its delivery.”
“In these circumstances,” the province’s court filing argues, “Canadian Pacific is directly responsible for the damages caused by MMA. [A]dditionally, Canadian Pacific is personally responsible for the damages caused by its own proper faults.”
CP dismissed Quebec’s motion in its counter-filing, asserting that the court’s acceptance of the province’s request “will unduly delay proceedings, (is) contrary to the interests of justice, and (is) useless and contrary to the principle of proportionality.”
CP also faces a class-action suit from victims and creditors, the Observer notes.