The widows of nine miners killed in the Giant Mine bombing of 1992 have lost the latest court battle in their wrongful-death lawsuit over the incident.

In a written decision released Thursday, the Northwest Territories Court of Appeal ruled that the miners' deaths were the result of one unforeseeable act — the trespass and setting of the explosion by Roger Warren, the striking miner convicted of killing the men who died in the explosion.

"The decision from the Court of Appeal is a disappointment, of course, to us," lawyer Jeff Champion, who represents the victims' families, told CBC News late Thursday.

"I think it's a cause for some greater sadness for the families, because it means that their ordeal is not yet over and hasn't been resolved."

At 8:45 a.m. MT on Sept. 18, 1992, during a labour dispute at the Yellowknife gold mine, nine miners — who had either crossed the picket line or had been hired as replacement workers — were killed when a bomb exploded underground.

Warren was convicted in 1995 of nine counts of second-degree murder. He is presently serving a life sentence in a federal penitentiary in Manitoba.

The Appeal Court's decision overturns a 2004 decision by the N.W.T. Supreme Court, which ruled that responsibility for the deaths was shared by a number of parties, including:

  • Mine owner Royal Oak Ventures, formerly known as Royal Oak Mines.
  • Pinkerton's of Canada Ltd., a security firm that Royal Oak hired to protect the mine site during the strike.
  • The Northwest Territories government.
  • The miners' union, the Canadian Association of Smelter and Allied Workers, which is now part of the National Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers Union of Canada.

The 2004 ruling, made by N.W.T. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Lutz, ordered those defendants to pay $10.7 million in damages to the miners' widows.

That decision was overturned with Thursday's Court of Appeal ruling, which stated that although all the defendants named in the lawsuit were negligent in one way or another, that negligence ultimately did not cause the nine miners' deaths.