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$388 Million Settlement Approved for Victims of Quebec Train Explosion

Alexandrea Messner12 months ago

On July 6th, 2013 a runaway train with 72 oil tankers derailed in Lac Megantic, Quebec, causing massive explosions, wiping out much of the town with raging fires, and killing 47 people.

Finally, after more than two years, victims of the accident can expect a settlement. On Friday, a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved a $338 million settlement after Canadian Pacific dropped its objection and a Canadian judge gave conditional approval on Thursday.

Details of the Settlement

According to reports, the settlement is part of the bankruptcy proceedings for Maine-based Montreal, Maine & Atlantic.

According to Robert Keach, U.S. bankruptcy trustee, payments could be made to victims by the end of November or the year's end at the latest. $83 million from the settlement will be used to settle wrongful death claims. The rest of the money will go to personal injury victims, property damage claimants, and government entities.

According to Keach, “We don't pretend to suggest that we made up for everything that happened. But within the limits of the civil system, this is substantial compensation for the victims and they deserve it.”

A member of a Lac Megantic-based coalition that promotes rail safety, Robert Bellefleur, was happy about the approval of the settlement.

“It's good news for people who were hit hard, who lost loved ones, homes, businesses,” said Bellefleur. “It will provide comfort and maybe enable people to get back on their feet and live a more normal life, but without ever forgetting what happened.”

After praising lawyers for working together to resolve this issue quickly, Judge Peter Cary stated, “My thoughts and good wishes go to the good town of Lac Megantic and the victims' families.”

Canadian Pacific Expects Future Litigation

Canadian Pacific argued long and hard that it bore no responsibility and that a settlement would hamper its ability to defend itself from lawsuits. In the end, the judge imposed a “judgement reduction provision” that would allow Canadian Pacific to drop its opposition, although they are still not contributing to the settlement.

According to a spokesperson from Canadian Pacific, Martin Cej, they are pleased that the victims will be compensated. They only wished to protect their legal interests, not delay payments to the victims.

Despite the settlement, the legal cases related to this accident are far from over. Now that the settlement is resolved, wrongful death suits that were on hold can be resumed, Canadian pacific could still be sued in several jurisdictions, and there are pending criminal charges against several workers charged with criminal negligence causing death.

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