Edmonton

Lawsuit seeks $10M damages for Walmart consumers after Fort McMurray wildfire

'Our clients are concerned that their families' health may have been compromised,' lawyer says

CBC News

February 10, 2017

A class action lawsuit filed against Walmart Canada is seeking $10 million in damages on behalf of Alberta consumers. (David Thurton/ CBC News)

A class-action lawsuit filed against Walmart Canada Corp. is seeking $10 million in damages on behalf of customers who purchased contaminated food at a Fort McMurray Walmart after last year's wildfire.

Calgary-based Higgerty Law filed a statement of claim in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench on Feb. 3.

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It seeks compensation for Alberta consumers who purchased or consumed products from Walmart's Fort McMurray location.

The action relates "to the negligent and irresponsible" sale and provision of consumer goods "which were unfit for human use or consumption following the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016, due to smoke and toxin contamination."

The lawsuit follows action taken by Alberta Health Services in January against Walmart. AHS filed 174 Public Health Act charges against the company in relation to the alleged sale of wildfire-contaminated products and goods.

Court documents show the alleged health act violations occurred at the Walmart outlet on Hospital Street between May 24 and May 29, 2016.

The lawsuit seeks damages on behalf of several groups:

"Our clients are concerned that their families' health may have been compromised," co-counsel Patrick Higgerty said in a news release Friday.

"While the full scope of the health impact on the affected families is not yet known, we will be seeking damages to compensate everyone affected. Consumers who have called us are universal in their call for the facts to be revealed and those accountable be held responsible."

Clint Docken with Higgerty Law said five people have signed up for the class action and they're still accepting more claimants.

William Young, a warehouse technician at the Sears store in Fort McMurray, is the representative plaintiff in the lawsuit.

In the news release from Higgerty Law, Young said he was "one of the essential personnel who came back early to help in the recovery process."

The statement of claim says Young purchased various products including eggs, sausages, milk, energy drinks and water between May 25, 2016, and May 29, 2016.

"Walmart needs to be held accountable for directly putting us in danger, and for not implementing a better plan of action in the wake of such disasters," Young said in the news release.

"We'd like to see that this doesn't happen again, and we'd like to be compensated for the damages we have accumulated as a result of Walmart's negligence."

None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven.

Walmart hasn't responded to CBC's request for comment.

A court has not certified the class-action.